had to keep smiling. He saw it through. He understood that God took him to a better spot and He is watching over him, and he understands what he had to do.”
For Allison that’s pursuing the dream, football on Friday nights graduating to Saturday afternoons and if all goes exceptionally well on to Sundays; to keep pushing, all while dealing with a lot of real life.
A year ago, Allison had changed his uniform to No. 9 in honor of his cousins, Jarrett and Jaylen Mumford, who were killed in an auto accident in 2016 during his freshman year. Jarrett Mumford, a freshman at Alabama State, had according to news reports returned home and to his high school just outside of Atlanta to fulfill a Homecoming tradition as the outgoing Mr. Banneker High, passing the honor on to his successor.
It was after that ceremony the car they and a third passenger were traveling in collided with another vehicle.
This year, his younger brother, Jaelan White.
“It’s life,” Allison said. “You have to live it day by day. I try to stay focused and remember that I’m doing this for a purpose and I can’t just let that bring me down.
“I have to make sure that the people that pass away, I have to make them happy and keep pursuing my dream. Everybody that I know that I’ve lost, they wanted me to be great. They wanted me to do this. They wanted it just like I want it. That just gives me more motivation to know that I have to complete that mission.”
Allison is on that track, and that dream is real.
Wearing a No. 9 that was retired in honor of Kevin Sweeney after receiving permission from the former Bulldogs quarterback, Allison had one of the best seasons by a linebacker in Fresno State history.
He racked up 126 total tackles including 79 solo, twice was the Mountain West defensive player of the week and was selected first-team all-conference as the Bulldogs completed one of the biggest turnarounds ever in college football.
Kenwick Thompson, the Bulldogs’ linebackers coach, is new to the staff and didn’t get a chance to watch Allison during spring practices as he rehabbed a shoulder injury.
But fall camp has not been a surprise at all.
“He is what you see on tape,” Thompson said. “He’s a physical player, plays fast. The thing that surprises you is that for a guy his size is how he moves and how he changes direction. That part, seeing that part in person, that’s impressive.
“The other part, I hadn’t seen in person, but I expected it, was his leadership ability and ability to get guys to play with him and to communicate. I was excited to get an opportunity to see that and pleased to this point where he has been, but at the same time he has an extreme work ethic. He works like a guy that’s still trying to get there.” The support, too, is real. O’Neal and Allison, a senior running back and junior linebacker, are that close.
“That’s my brother,” Allison said. “His mother is my mother, my mother is his . ... That’s like my blood brother. He knows my whole family.”
A day later and a different discussion, it’s O’Neal.
“It’s like a brother that my mom didn’t have,” the Bullard High grad said. “We’re like a big family. ... When I saw him shed a tear, it made me shed one because I understand.”
Coach Jeff Tedford, the Bulldogs’ assistant coaches and staff all check in with him. Marcus McMaryion. Tank Kelly. Matt Boateng. KeeSean Johnson. The Bulldogs, offense, defense, special teams, no one ever is too far away.
“All of the guys, they came to me, prayed with me,” Allison said.
They are, McMaryion said, a tight group: “They understand that support is there with them all the time, during the good times, during the bad times. That’s part of what we’re supposed to do. They should learn more than football from the game of football.
“We try to make a point of that. Coach Tedford makes that a big part of who we are. Unfortunately, when things like that happen, it gets put into action. You can never totally prepare for something like that, but you just hope that some of the things that he has learned through this game help him get through it.”
McMaryion lauded Allison for the way he has handled it all, on and off the football field.
“I reminded the guys the other day, too, there are a lot of people going through stuff outside of football and we’re fortunate enough to be put here playing a game and enjoying our time and having fun,” he said.
“But there definitely are people and Jeff is one of them that’s dealing with some stuff outside and I commend him for being able to handle his business on the field and not let it affect him when he’s out here.”
When Allison is on the field this fall Jaevon will be there as well, just as Jarrett and Jaylen Mumford were last season and will be again this season.
“My little brother, I just want to do my best for him,” Allison said. “He looked up to me. He always wanted the best for me, I wanted the best for him.
“Things were short for him, but I just want to make sure I do my best. I don’t think I’m going to have a (jersey) number or something like that for him, I just want to give him my all and let him know that I love him.”