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Welcome Aboard: Jack Allen

On Friday, Hinsdale Central (IL) offensive lineman Jack Allen became the 14th member of MSU's 2011 recruiting class.  The basics:

  • 6'2", 275 lbs.  4.8 40 time, 30" vertical, 320 bench, 450 squat.
  • Chose MSU over primarily Iowa and Wisconsin.
  • Scout: 3 stars, #7 center nationally.
  • Rivals: 3 stars, #15 center nationally.
  • ESPN: 3 stars, 78 grade, #10 center nationally.
  • RCMB stalking thread here.

This is the first offensive line commit for MSU in the Class of 2011, much to the relief of many of us.  Reports indicate that Allen was a major priority for the coaching staff, and reviews of him have been quite positive.  Allen Trieu's scouting report:

Has excellent fundamentals. Plays with good leverage and has good footwork. Great drive blocker who gets into his man and finishes blocks strong. Shows the athleticism to pull and play in the second level. Has good balance and coordination in space. Is light right now and needs to add weight before he can play at the college level, but has the potential to be a long term starter in college.

He also called Allen "the real deal" in the RCMB thread.  ESPN mostly concurs with Trieu's assessment:

Allen is a smart, aggressive run blocker with the explosion and playing strength to get movement when blocking "0" technique defenders. Has the height and athleticism for the center position at the major level of competition; will need to add bulk to his frame over time [ . . . ]

And, comments from his high school coach:

"I think Jack's the best center in the state, and I don't think anybody's even close," DiMatteo said. "He's got the best combination of speed, athleticism, size, power. He's 14-0 in national wrestling tournaments, let's put it that way. He's a nasty dude." [ . . . ]

"Jack's a beast, man. I love Jack because he's the type of football player you want. He's a great kid. He comes from a great family, and he's just a killer on the football field. He's just a lot of fun. They don't come around like Jack Allen too often."

The nearly-universal sentiment is that Allen will need to put on some weight to succeed at MSU.  Scout currently lists him at 275 lbs., but Rivals measures him at only 262.  Big Ten nose guards weigh 50 pounds more than that; a corresponding weight gain seems to be in order.  However, Allen is only 6'2", which perhaps puts a ceiling on how bulky he can become.  He is an outstanding high school wrestler (ranked as the #5 heavyweight in the country by some reliable-looking website Google turned up), and so he may be purposely keeping his weight down a bit in order to stay mobile for wrestling season.  This obviously wouldn't be a concern at MSU, no matter how much Tom Minkel would like to have him.

But nonetheless, his technique seems to be good, and the fact that he is an excellent wrestler certainly speaks to his athletic ability.  It's also encouraging that Wisconsin and Iowa were interested in him: those schools always seem to turn average/high-average prospects into excellent offensive linemen.  If they were interested, it suggests that Allen has the raw tools to succeed at the position.

Center was a position of great need for the Spartans in this recruiting class, as starter John Stipek has only one season of eligibility remaining.  Thereafter, Nate Klatt--who was a highly-regarded recruit himself--figures to start at center for three seasons; Allen figures to back up Klatt as a freshman and sophomore (it seems that the depth chart at center is too thin for Allen to redshirt) and then start during his final two seasons [edit: or three, as witless chum points out in the comments].  Lawrence Thomas tends to draw the headlines in MSU's 2011 class, but Allen certainly has the chance to end up being the most impactful recruit of all.