EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State offensive lineman Jack Allen, who started five games at left guard and another seven games at center in 2012, has been named Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America. Allen is one of four Big Ten players selected to the 30-man team, joining Iowa offensive lineman Austin Blythe, Michigan tight end Devin Funchess and Penn State defensive lineman Deion Barnes.
It marks the sixth time in the last seven years that a Spartan has earned a spot on the FWAA Freshman All-America Team, as Allen joins placekicker Brett Swenson (2006), linebacker Greg Jones (2007), offensive guard Joel Foreman (2008), defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (2009) and defensive end Marcus Rush (2011).
The 6-foot-1, 295-pound Allen made the move from left guard to center following Travis Jackson’s second-ending knee/leg injury against Ohio State. He played 925 out of a possible 957 offensive snaps (97 percent), ranking behind only offensive guard Chris McDonald (in total plays). Allen ranked second on the team with 59 knockdowns, including a team-leading 14 dominators. The Hinsdale, Ill., native turned in perhaps his top performance of the 2012 season in MSU’s 17-16 victory over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, as he produced nine knockdowns, including one dominator, and helped spring Le’Veon Bell for 145 yards on 32 carries against the Horned Frogs. TCU entered the game ranked 10th in the NCAA Football Subdivision in rushing defense, allowing just 103.9 yards per game.
Allen previously earned Freshman All-America honors from Sporting News (first team) and CollegeFootballNews.com (second team). In addition, he was named to the ESPN.com and BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Teams.
“Jack Allen is an extremely versatile player,” Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio said. “As a red-shirt freshman, Jack transitioned from center to guard, then from guard back to center. He’s athletic, knowledgeable and plays with tremendous toughness. Jack will be an outstanding player on our offensive line for the next three years.”
“Motor, motor, motor – that’s the best way to describe Jack Allen,” MSU offensive line coach Mark Staten said. “He is an extremely hard worker. Jack brings the tenacity and work ethic daily to the practice field that an offensive lineman needs to become a great player. We can’t wait to have him back for what should be a special sophomore season.”
“I simply focused on improving each and every week during the season,” Allen said. “As the season progressed, I certainly had a better grasp of the game plan each week, but I also became better prepared mentally to push through each game. In addition to Coach (Mark) Staten, the veteran players around me helped a great deal, coaching me up during practices and games. Those guys really helped push me throughout the season.
“Obviously, the biggest challenge for me was adjusting to the speed of the game and developing awareness for what the defensive fronts were trying to do on each play.”
Michigan State made its school-record sixth-consecutive postseason appearance in 2012 and finished the season with a 7-6 record overall, as the Spartans won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1989-90 seasons (MSU defeated Georgia, 33-30, in triple overtime in the 2012 Outback Bowl).