Damon Allen, star quarterback for Cal State Fullerton's football team, is expected to soon sign a contract with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
"We're pretty close," Allen's agent, Mike Blatt, said Wednesday. "Something should be done in the next 10 days. But it's pretty much a forgone thing that he's going to Edmonton."
Allen, who led the Titans to a 12-0 record last season, also had a potential career as a pitcher. Last summer, Allen was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the seventh round of major league baseball's free agent draft. The Tigers offered him $40,000 to sign, but he decided to stay at Fullerton to play football.
It wasn't a bad decision. Allen set seven single-season records for the Titans and finished 12th in the nation in total offense and 16th in passing efficiency. He also set an NCAA single-season record for pass interception ratio, throwing only three interceptions in 330 attempts.
Allen could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but his decision to go to Canada might have been influenced by his performance this season as a pitcher for the Titans. He appeared in 13 games and had a 1-3 record and a 9.28 earned run average.
Allen recently quit the baseball team and has been working out with the Fullerton football team during spring practice. The CFL season begins in mid May.
The Eskimos have offered Allen a creative, three-year contract in which his salary will be based on performance.
Allen will receive one salary if he makes the team, another if he is the starting quarterback and yet another if he is one of the league's top three quarterbacks.
The average salary in the CFL for quarterbacks is $84,000, but if Allen is one of the top three he will make close to $200,000 annually.
"If he performs well, he'll be paid well," Blatt said. "If he doesn't, he won't. That's the American way, even if it is in Canada."
The Eskimos have long been one of the CFL's top teams. Edmonton, under former head coach Hugh Campbell, won five consecutive Grey Cup titles from 1979 to 1982.
Last season, the Eskimos finished third in the Western Conference with a 9-7 record. Edmonton's starting quarterback is Matt Dunnigan, who served as backup to Warren Moon in 1983. Dunnigan threw for 3,273 yards and 21 touchdowns last season and rushed for 732 yards on 89 carries.
But though Dunnigan is coming off a good season, Eskimos General Manager Norm Kimball is excited about the prospect of signing Allen.
Allen, 6-1 and 170 pounds, is frail in appearance but possesses a strong arm and great scrambling ability, which seemingly makes him a natural for the wide-open Canadian brand of football.
"His chance of playing is substantial," Kimball said. "Plus, we've had great success with the two-quarterback system here. We really like the way he controls the ball. We think he can be an outstanding quarterback in Canada."