Dakota Allen has been a star, or at least a household name, in Lubbock since he broke out as a freshman. His exodus and prodigal son-like return has made his story fascinating, and his play on the field has bolstered one of the brightest stars in the landscape of college football going into 2018.

Add in the fact that he's trying to overturn a defensive culture that has been a second or third thought since the Kliff Kingsbury stepped on the field the first time around back in the year 2000 and the story gets even better.

Dakota Allen led the way on the Big 12 Preseason All-Big 12 team, with Jah'Shawn Johnson and Justus Parker also making the team. Texas Tech was the only team with three selections. That led to Allen getting a spotlight at Big 12 Media Days on Monday:

Allen was quick to give credit to Coach Gibbs' coaching. "We're just here to do Coach Gibbs system to the best of our ability," Allen said, talking about how the coach turnover hasn't affected the team: "We still have our goals."

The best line in the interview comes when Allen is talking about responsibility for leading the defense. "A lot is on my shoulders, but I'm willing to carry it," he said.

I love that answer, and he will have to do more in 2018 because the pressure is mounting, due in part to the social media team of Texas Tech putting the #thingshavechanged hashtag into existence.

The hashtag reached a fever pitch this week when the team dropped this video featuring a Dakota Allen-spotlighted hype video for the defense. In it, a broadcaster screams, "Dakota Allen, their best defensive player," and Allen himself says the defense is "just getting started."

Don't get me wrong: I'm excited for the defense, but I can't help but be skeptical when there hasn't been a good defense in Lubbock since 2009. Last year saw extreme improvement, and Texas Tech was the best in the conference at creating turnovers. But the points per game and total yards given up were still too high. The defense also has to take responsibility for losses like West Virginia and South Florida, fair or not.

My question is, can the defense possibly live up to the #thingshavechanged hype? Or will Texas Tech have a mediocre defense, which is still an improvement, but not a complete turnaround?


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