Michigan State’s battle-hardened, two-time All-American who has been the glue at the beating heart of a youth revolution in East Lansing.
Vastly experienced, battle hardened team captain and leader at the centre of an inexperienced Spartans’ offensive line, Brian Allen, a two-time successive Second Team All-Big Ten selection has seen and done it all in one of college football’s toughest conferences.
With three years starting experience, the senior is riding the crest of a school record 24 consecutive appearances in a Spartans career that has seen him log time at all three interior offensive line spots.
— Michigan State (@Michigan_State) August 25, 2017
Such is the Hinsdale, Illinois native’s influence in Mark Dantonio’s program, Allen has been the very glue holding things together (alongside co-captain, outstanding linebacker Chris Frey) during what had been the most turbulent twelve months in ‘Ol’ Sparty’s recent history. A period that saw a perennial contender slog through a painful year of flux (3-9), and Allen the bridge to a football program losing its best talent to the NFL and new resurgent, yet raw recruiting classes adjusting to life on campus.
However, economics major Allen, a standout both on and off the field, m, an Academic All-American in the classroom, returned to East Lansing rather than join the ranks of the NFL. There’s no doubt in my mind, he would have been a second day selection.
His return saw him immediately named a pre-season All-Big Ten Conference selection while placed on the much coveted Outland Trophy Watch List , awarded each year to the country’s most outstanding interior lineman. Such is his high regard in school, the senior is proudly a member of the team’s leadership council, further emphasising his crucial standing on a very young roster.
On the field, Allen is a battle hardened campaigner at the heart of a highly inexperienced, yet talented offensive line group. The four-year senior with 42 appearances (34 starts) to his name, jumps off the screen with his characteristic, impressively tough, strong anchor. Allen consistently plays close to the ground, staying low in an instant off the snap, maintaining an impressive pad level that allows him to be consistently victorious in the leverage battle.
Allen, who has football in his blood as the younger brother of New Orleans Saints’ centre Jack, bends very well at the hips rather than the knees. Defensive tackles find it almost impossible to drive him back as he hunkers down to his spot in pass protection, thanks to his outstanding strength, toughness and the characteristic fierce, street-fighting mentality he brings to the position.
In the ground game he utilises lower body strength and toughness to lock onto his opponent and drive him at his behest, where he wants him. Stands out with a powerful leg drive off the snap, gets his hands into correct position to win the rep. Excellent core strength and balance, that means at the very worst, Allen at least holds his spot as a consistently immovable force.
The Spartan co-captain brings a hard-headed nastiness in the trenches. The undisputed leader of the unit and displays such with his vocality, graphically moving teammates into correct position pre-snap and communicating effectively having diagnosed his opposing defence’s intentions with a marked intelligence. Quick and explosive who moves so well to get out to the second level.
— 40 Yards Scouting (@mattphillips78) October 12, 2017
This attribute in his arsenal was perfectly illustrated during Saturday’s Paul Bunyan Trophy-winning, road victory in the ‘Big House’ (as above). Here, the senior demonstrated his footballing intelligence and vision when moving out into space at the second level without an assignment to block, quickly identifying a Michigan cornerback standing between his scrambling quarterback and a game defining first down. He identified work and locked on, driving his opposite number back onto the ground that crucially allowed quarterback Brian Lawerke in making a first down, a key play in a tight, tense contest that all but secured a famous 17-13 victory in Ann Arbor over Michigan to ice the game.
This play alone, encapsulated his consistently outstanding instincts for the position and the vision to feel his quarterback behind him, identifying the block required before making a clean move to erase him from the play, without whom his passer would certainly have been stopped short of the marker, doubtlessly receiving a potentially dangerous hit in the process and of course allowing Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines crucial time to mount a comeback.
Allen’s pedigree, battle hardened experience, footballing intelligence, outstanding character and leadership not to mention his off-field excellence, leaves me in no doubt that he will be a fixture at the heart of an NFL offensive line for a decade that can be plugged in and forgotten.
⇒ Cover Image: Mike Carter/USA Today Sports