Blaze Alldredge is a linebacker for the Missouri Tigers of the Southeastern Conference, affectionately known as the SEC, which is widely regarded as the toughest conference is all of college football.
As glamorous as that sounds to say, Alldredge did not begin his career in Columbia, Missouri for the Tigers, instead starting his collegiate journey 27 hours away, at what is known as LA Pierce College, which is a Junior College or JUCO.
“My junior year of high school, I had a really good season,” Alldredge said. “I began receiving a ton of interest from some D-I schools. Heading into my senior year, we went through a coaching change, and ended up finishing 3-7.
“I did have an offer from Columbia, which is an ivy league school, and I was pretty set on taking the offer, but as signing day grew closer, I made the decision to go to California with my family. I planned to play for a D-III school there, but a JUCO coach reached out to me and I decided to take a chance on myself, which is how I ended up at LA Pierce.
“After that first scrimmage, I realized I did not play very well, and I really began to get down on myself. I went through a period where I felt I truly was not good enough to play at the D-I level, and that maybe I should give up on that dream.
“Fortunately, I was able to shake that off and I decided ‘I can do this’ and since that moment, I have never allowed that sort of thought to re-enter my mind.”
After having a solid first season at the JUCO level, in which Alldredge reeled in First Team All-Conference Honors, Alldredge began to notice that his recruiting was opening back up. Since he did not get any mid-year transfer offers, he decided to play one more year at the JUCO level.
“That’s when Rice came into the picture,” Alldredge said. “I knew Coach Bloom from my high school days, and we already had a good relationship. When they offered, I decided man, this is what I was waiting for and I took it!
“I am forever grateful for Coach Bloom and Rice University for the opportunity that they gave to me. When I first arrived on campus in Houston at Rice, things did not necessarily go how I had hoped that they would. What started out as me being the number 2 guy on the depth chart, quickly turned into the number 3 guy.
“Although I fought hard and by the beginning of the season I climbed up to the number 2 spot again, I did not see much playing time, other than on the special teams unit. The guy in front of me ended up getting sick one game, and I saw that as my opportunity to start and show what I could do against Southern Mississippi.
“I finished that game leading the team in tackles with 10, and I also recorded the first INT for the team that season. From that point forward, I earned myself a spot in the rotation, and eventually took over as the starter midway through the season.”
During the off-season, Alldredge took himself to greater heights, and truly perfected his craft, resulting in a great spring camp.
“As a result, my junior season was a breakout year,” Alldredge said. “I finished the season with over 100 tackles, and I was in the top-5 in TFL for my position. As a result of that season, I garnered a ton of attention, and I even found myself on some watch-lists for several awards for 2020!”
Covid-19 enters the chat.
“As a result of Covid, my teammates and I found our season to be cut very short,” Alldredge said. “Despite playing well, I felt like the late start and limited number of games all combined with the uncertainty of the draft process for this year, that it would be in my best interest to put my name in the transfer portal.
“Mizzou was one of the first teams to reach out to me, and I just felt like it was the perfect fit for me. I committed to them pretty quickly, and I look forward to reporting there in a little over a month.”
Alldredge is the perfect example of what it means to bet on yourself in life. Starting out at Celebration High School in Celebration, Florida, and making the decision to travel 37 hours west to LA Pierce College, to then receive a late offer from 23 hours away in Rice University in Houston, Texas, to then transferring 13 hours away to the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.
Alldredge is hoping that this last bet that he has made on himself turns out to be the right one, like all the others have been. Let’s just hope he earned some perks from all of those miles he traveled!