GREEN BAY - Everyone saw the production, but statistics weren’t what sold the Packers on Geronimo Allison’s upside after arriving in Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2016.
The 6-foot-3, 202-pound receiver hit the ground running with a productive preseason and experienced unexpected success late in the season as a secondary option behind the likes of veterans Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams.
His size, speed and a catchy first name made Allison a popular new addition with the Packers’ fan base, but it was his approach in the classroom that earned him respect among his teammates and coaches.
“G-Mo is one of the biggest students of the game in this locker room. He attacks it,” said Adams early in the offseason program. “You talk about a pro, he’s on his way to being just like the Jordys in terms of how he carries himself.
“He’s the most attentive dude. Doesn’t say much, but he’s observant - he’s watching all the time and he picks up on things real well.”
Allison cautions not to confuse his quiet nature with indifference. Allison is fully aware of what’s going on around him at all times, and entering his third NFL season, he understands more will be asked of him.
He’s no longer an undrafted longshot. In fact, Allison enters 2018 as the third-longest tenured receiver on the roster at the moment following Nelson’s offseason departure.
Nelson had a massive influence on Allison during their two seasons together in Green Bay. The 24-year-old receiver constantly took notes on Nelson’s preparation, going so far as to sit in front of the Pro Bowler in receiver meetings.
When Nelson spoke, Allison listened. He credits those experiences, along with time spent with Cobb and Adams, for aiding his development following an unusual path to the pros.
Allison only played one year of high school football before starring at Iowa Western Community College for two seasons. A two-year stint at Illinois put Allison on Green Bay’s radar. With a “business-first” mentality, Allison kept his head down as a rookie and made the most of every opportunity thrown his way.
“I’m just a quiet person, but when spoken to, I speak. I hold conversations,” Allison said. “That’s just sort of my personality. They’re getting more used to that. So sometimes they see it as laid-back, sometimes they see it as serious. But definitely when I’m out there on the field, I’m focused.”
Allison often was the next receiver up the past two seasons whenever Nelson, Cobb or Adams was out of the lineup. He saw his snaps nearly double this past season (185 to 343) and has channeled his opportunities into 35 career receptions for 455 yards and two touchdowns in 25 games.
Allison enjoyed perhaps the biggest game of his young career last September when he caught six passes for 122 yards - including a 72-yard run-and-catch in overtime - to lead the Packers to a 27-24 win over Cincinnati.
While Allison enters camp as the de facto No. 3 receiver on the depth chart, he knows nothing will be handed to him. The Packers also return a pair of former fifth-round picks, Trevor Davis and DeAngelo Yancey, and have three hungry young rookies - J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown - pushing the room.
“It’s a big blessing and opportunity right there in front of me (and) I’ve got to take advantage,” Allison said. “At the time, there’s nothing that’s going to be given - it’s got to be earned. They brought these (rookies) in to help us, and at the same time, it’s my job to get these guys up to speed.”
One thing Allison has working in his favor is two years of experience catching passing from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The importance of developing chemistry with the two-time NFL MVP is one of the lasting lessons Nelson, Cobb and Adams have passed down to Allison.
Later this month, he hopes to continue building that bond.
“I know how he trusts me,” Allison said. “I know how he wants me to continue to work, continue to be where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there, and continue to just be ‘G’ and continue to make plays. That’s our relationship.”