Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio has played the family connection in attracting some of the best recruits to the Spartans. The Bullough family was the first, but soon the Allen family will have a solid contingent in East Lansing. Following his brother Jack to MSU, class of recruit 2014 Brian Allen has decided that the Green and White suit him just fine.
When Hondo S. Carpenter Sr. talked to Brian on Spartan Nation Radio early in April, the high school junior’s mouth was sealed. Though he had offers from 13 schools, such as Cal, Boston College, Iowa, Ole Miss and Michigan State, Allen did not disclose his top schools until about a week before the annual Green and White spring game.
Narrowing his list to Iowa, Ole Miss and MSU, the offensive lineman faced a tough decision. He would have to choose between following in the footsteps of his brother Jack, currently a red shirt sophomore at Michigan State, or forge his own path at Ole Miss or Iowa.
On the day of the Green and White game, Hinsdale native made up his mind: he wanted to join his big brother at State. He spoke about his commitment on Spartan Nation radio.
Jack was not the only reason for Brian’s choice. “[Jack] was definitely a big factor. But at the same time, Coach Dantonio and his coaching staff are what really had me coming back,” Brian said. “I tried to [make] my decision by taking [Jack] out of the picture because he’s only going to be there for so long. Michigan State has good coaches. But Coach D is just a really good person, which more important to me than being a good football coach, which is I why I kept coming back.”
Just as Mark Dantonio talked to Jack Allen early in the recruiting process, the veteran coach showed his interest in the younger Allen early on. “For me, I wouldn’t say it was as important, but the schools that offered me the earliest ¬¬¬– Iowa and Michigan State were the first to — they were in it right until the end,” Brian said. “I would say Ole Miss was my second favorite, with Iowa. They came in later, but…I wouldn’t say it played too much of a factor in it.”
Unlike many other big-time recruits, Allen refused to get caught up in the publicity. The highly sought after recruit stayed humble every step of the way. He did not publicize himself or make his decision a large ordeal. “We’ve never really been showboats,” Allen said. “I would kind of venture off that way when I was a little kid, but I would get smacked in the head by someday saying, ‘Keep your head on your shoulders.’ I’m thankful for having the parents that I have, just because that family that I’m from, that’s kind of our attitude.”
In many ways, Jack and Brian are quite alike. The obvious similarities are that the two play the same position (offensive line) and are of similar size. But the Allen brothers also share a sense of humility and have the same mindset on the football field. “We’re trying to hurt the guy across from us. There’s nothing really nice about football,” Brian said bluntly. “You can preach technique all you want, but if you’re not mean, you can’t play our position and that’s one thing I think we both have. I like to think that I’m a little more technical than he is, but I’m not sure if that’s accurate.”
Though Brian would not typically be characterized as loud, he does have that reputation in his family. “Everyone in my family has a different personality. Jack has always been kind of the shy kid. My parents tell me that I’m the most obnoxious out of the three, so I get that title,” Brian said.
One of Dantonio’s newest Spartans is certainly not loud in the locker room, however. Still, players gravitate towards the gifted player. “I’ve never really said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be the guy, you guys follow me.’ I just go about my business,” Allen explained. “I feel like I’m doing it right and doing it the right way and I just find myself in that role.”
One of Allen’s characteristics that entices other players to follow him is his work ethic. One of the nation’s top ranked centers for his 2014 class in the country, Allen values preparation and loves to watch film. “It helps knowing your offense and the defensive schemes you’re going against. It’s that much easier if you know everything,” Allen said. “You watch film: they have trends, certain ways they go about doing their stuff, and it’s a lot easier watching it a second time than it is watching it a first time. You study hard in the film room, and you know what’s coming before they even do it. It’s easy to go about it this way.”
Allen’s hard work and leadership has already extended beyond the football field and into the recruiting realm. “Since I gave my commitment to Coach D, Chase Gianacakos, Enoch [Smith Jr.] and I [have been] on [the] Michigan State [Recruits]. Everyone who has an offer, we’re reaching out to,” Allen said. “All three of us being from the Chicago area, I don’t think we’re going to have just three [players] coming to East Lansing from Chicago. I have strong faith that we’ll have at least a couple more guys from our area coming up. We’re excited to talk to them and get to know them and build relationships with our future teammates.”
While the young offensive lineman loves football, Allen is certainly not one-dimensional. The Hinsdale Central student does not only focus on football: Allen recognizes the importance of school. “It’s obviously a goal of mine to get to the National Football League, as I’m sure [it is a goal of] everybody who has the option to play at the next level,” the promising recruit said. “At the same time, it doesn’t always happen and I understand that. I hope and pray it’s not me, but you have to have a backup plan.” Once he stops playing football, Allen hopes to run a business, most likely a restaurant. “I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a backup plan, it’s something I’m interested in even after playing football,” Allen explained. “It’s really important to get a degree and move on after my football career is over.”
A fierce player on the football field, Allen possesses intangibles off of it that make coaches salivate. His work ethic, leadership, and humility give him a greater chance for success at the college level and beyond. And though he follows his brother Jack, Brian certainly has the potential to forge his own legacy in East Lansing.