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Archive for Tuesday, April 11, 1995

MARK ALLISON

April 11, 1995

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College football coaches all over the country learned in the late 80s that Minneapolis wasn't just on the Minnesota map.

Recruiters from USC, Michigan, Notre Dame, etc., beat a path to Minneapolis, Kan., where one of its 2,000 or so citizens was a big, mobile high school lineman named Mark Allison.

Parade and SuperPrep magazines dubbed Allison a first-team high school All-American. USA Today named him one of the top 25 high school players in the country.

That was five years ago.

Then Allison signed a letter of intent with Kansas -- a real recruiting coup for the Jayhawks -- where he played tackle for three seasons after a red-shirt year.

Allison won't play a fourth.

Injuries, specifically a wrecked ankle, convinced the 6-foot-3, 295-pounder to pull the plug.

"I was hurt two and a half of my four years here," Allison said. "Football is fun, but after awhile enough is enough, and you've got to move on."

Three times Allison suffered knee damage and three times he came back to play again. Once he also tore up a thumb. He came back from that, too.

Then he wrenched the ankle in last fall's Iowa State game, and the comebacks ended.

"It was the ankle that prompted me to hang it up," Allison said. "I was on crutches for 11 weeks and couldn't put any pressure on it for eight weeks. It's still painful. I was on my feet all day Saturday and it swole up pretty good."

Allison didn't suffer a garden variety sprained ankle. He messed it up good, tearing all the ligaments that separate the two leg bones, plus the sinew that connects the leg bones to the foot bones.

Doctors installed "a big, long screw" in order to knit the bones. "Otherwise," Allison said, "one leg would have been shorter than the other."

Doctors also advised Allison he had a serious problem. They didn't tell him not to play football, but they painted a grim picture of what could happen if he damaged the ankle again.

Then he considered his track record.

"I had four surgeries in the last year," he noted. "I had the thumb last spring, then I had some knee cartilage during two-a-days and then the ankle. And then in January I had surgery to take out the screw."

Four. No more.

"To some people football is their life," he said. "I'm really happy being a regular student now. I'm done in May and then I'll do an internship and go from there."

Allison is enrolled in KU's sports management curriculum which means he'll probably return for a graduate degree. He won't return to football, though.

"My career has been disappointing because of the injuries," he said. "What if I hadn't been hurt? Could I have been the player I wanted to be? Who knows? ... Now that it's over, it's time to move on."

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