Draft Profile: Jack Allen, MSU

Wherever Jack Allen lines up, his impact is palpable. Anchoring the line as center at Hinsdale Central High School, in west suburban Chicago and then at Michigan State, Allen sets a standard of excellence. When the National Football League draft takes place in Chicago, Il. [April 28-30], Allen will be watching at home with his parents, John and Leslie, and two brothers, waiting to hear where he will be heading for his professional career. Allen felt a comfort zone visiting the East Lansing, Mi. campus. “I had three offers, Wisconsin, which wanted me to play nose tackle, Iowa and Michigan State,” he said. “The big selling point Michigan State made was how hard it would be, in practice and in the offseason. [caption id="attachment_74027" align="alignright" width="254"]Allen, Jack Photo courtesy of Michigan State Athletic Communications[/caption] “The first thing [strength and conditioning] coach Ken Mannie said, ‘If you don’t like to work hard, this is not the place for you! That’s been true from day one; we take a lot of pride in our work ethic as a team.” A four-year starter and two-time All-American, Allen’s weight was felt on the line and locker room. A state champion wrestler and three-time finalist, his mat skills translated quite well to the gridiron. “Wrestling helped me more than anything else in my career; I’d never be in the position where I am now,” said Allen, whose dad, wrestled at Hinsdale Central and was a heavyweight at Purdue in the 1980s. Jack had his first match in second grade. Brothers Brian (2013) and Matt (2016) were also state champions. “The hand fighting, body position, leverage, mental toughness and hard work all apply to playing the line.” A four-time All-Academic Big Ten selection, who graduated last December with a degree in business hospitality, Allen came in at 285, was up to 315, but is currently under 300. A top five center in all draft publications, who was interviewed by 27 teams, Allen projects as a third-fifth round selection. “I feel quick at this weight,” he said. “I’ve studied a lot of film and I feel I know offensive schemes like the back of my hand. I’ve tried to excel in everything I do. It’s been a step by step process to get here. I have no idea who is interested in me, but I am anxious to get started.” Allen’s adroit assets where appreciated by offensive line coach Mark Staten. [caption id="attachment_74028" align="alignleft" width="350"]Jack Allen Photo courtesy of Michigan State Athletic Communications[/caption] “Jack’s wrestling background definitely helps,” said Staten. “On the line, it’s an individual matchup. A wrestler’s mentality is, ‘I have to beat my guy.’ All the Allen brothers [Brian, who started last fall at left guard, Matt will be a freshman at MSU in the fall] carry that trait well. Leverage is a big part, he can feel which way guys are moving and use his leverage against them. I’ve seen Jack overpower a lot of guys who were bigger than him. “Our whole line and team fed off Jack, he’s a tremendous leader and I know he’ll continue to be in the NFL. Jack has an incredible skill set. He’s capable of playing guard, he has terrific quickness and a great first step. He has a great desire to learn and sharp football mind. He’ll spend hours studying to figure out an opponent’s weakness. He’s got the mark of a champion.” Staten wouldn’t be surprised if Allen was used as a goal line fullback. “Jack is a great athlete,” he said. “Using him at fullback allowed us to give the defense different looks and gave us plenty of thump at the point of attack. He’s also able to catch if you want to throw it to him.” Seth Schwartz is a freelance writer in Chicago. He can be reached atseth.schwartz@sbcglobal.net

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