CEDAR FALLS | All of their young lives, A.J. and Trevor Allen shared a basement room in Waukee where the battles were legendary.
The two, separated by a year, say the action was just far enough away that mom, Kristina Storm, ... "she couldn't hear me scream for help," laughed Trevor, the younger of the two brothers.
But as much as the basement battles resolved the issues of that time, the Allen brothers could not fathom being apart when it came to college where Trevor, Northern Iowa's starting running back, and A.J., a starting safety/linebacker, are carrying on the legacy of a last name quite familiar to Panther faithful.
The two are the sons of Andre Allen, the two-time Missouri Valley Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year and two-time all-American linebacker, for UNI from 1991-1994.
"He always had that in his back pocket," A.J. said of UNI. "He would come and ask are you still thinking about UNI?
"But the bottom line was he left it up to us. He wanted us to follow our dreams and do what we wanted to do and not what somebody told us to do," added A.J.
A.J. arrived at UNI in 2014, and a year later, Trevor, who rushed for more than 3,600 yards at Waukee, was torn on whether to follow A.J. to UNI or go to North Dakota State, his other top choice.
The final decision came down to basement battles.
"It was here or NDSU and it came down to A.J.," Trevor said. "I don't think I could've been away from him that long. The year he was away at college and I was still at home, it was weird. That solidified it that I was coming here."
The two don't share a room any more, but live in houses next door in Cedar Falls. The basement battles continue on the practice field, however.
"There is a lot of smack talk going back and forth," Trevor laughed.
Both Allen brothers have been making their mark in the Panthers' lineup for the past two seasons, and this year both are starters.
A.J. saw action in 22 games as freshman and sophomore as a safety, while Trevor earned a spot on the MVFC all-Newcomer team last year as a hybrid running back/wide receiver.
How each gravitated to offense or defense is another interesting note to their story.
"I was always a little bigger so I just went to defense," said A.J., who has played both safety spots and outside linebacker for the Panthers in their first four games this season. "I was the first kid. When we were younger I think Trevor played some corner, but we always handed him the ball because that was more his skill set than mine.
"But don't get me wrong, I can catch him if I need, too."
Both Allen's love the fact they are carrying on the legacy their father, a 2013 UNI Hall of Fame Inductee, built during his playing career.
"People know who are dad was," A.J. said. "It is great, amazing. He built the foundation for the Allen name, and we are living up to it and even trying to go past it. It has been a great challenge, and we are looking forward to keeping it moving."
"I love carrying on the Allen legacy," Trevor added. "We don't get compared to him that much, but we like to think we are like him because on the field we want to take care of business, and somebody not to be messed with because people did not mess with him on the football field."
There is one person who see similarities in the Allen brothers and their father, current UNI head coach Mark Farley who was Andre's position coach for the Panthers.
"I see the competiveness from their dad in them because Andre was always competitive on the football field," Farley said. "I see that that in both of them with how they play.
"It is neat to see those guys here knowing what their dad was to our football program and both are now starters. I'm sure he is very pleased. Their mom, too, she is a big factor in all of this."
There is also one story left to the Allen tale that both A.J. and Trevor want to discover an answer to it.
During Andre's time at UNI, and one of Farley's favorite stories to tell the Allen brothers, is in a time where almost all players wore either black or white cleats, Andre had a pair of purple suede cleats that then UNI head coach Terry Allen allowed him to wear in games.
"I think I saw them once or twice when I was a kid," Trevor smiled.
"He probably has them in the archives at home somewhere," A.J. laughed. "I'm going to have to go home and take them. I'm going to have to ask if he has them still."