Players strive their whole lives to be the famous quarterback or the elite running back, but some kids just end up growing too fast and becoming too large.
These select few are given what used to be the most overlooked position on the team: offensive lineman.
You are never really shown highlights of the offensive line unless a former lineman is working in the announcing booth and points out some intricate detail about the foot or hand speed of the lineman that bores the average fan.
The stereotype used to be that the linemen were just the slow ones who were not athletic. This is no longer the norm as individuals become more athletic by the second it seems. Case in point is MSU junior center, Jack Allen.
Allen is now the lynchpin of the Spartans front five. Allen is a two-time letterwinner and is now on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding center.
While achieving numerous honors in his Spartan football career, Jack casually wrestled to a 46-0 record his senior year of high school and won the state championship at 285 pounds in 2011 in Hinsdale, Ill.
His younger brother, Brian, was offered a football scholarship from Iowa as a freshman in high school, but ultimately decided to follow his brother to Michigan State.
To fully understand how Jack’s wrestling prowess applies to football requires a bit of thought. Hand fighting is a key part of any wrestling match. When the wrestler is a heavyweight where not a lot of movement is involved, you need to get the upper hand on your opponent, literally.
An arm drag or gaining control of a hand allows a strategic advantage in getting a takedown. When you apply these skills to a football field, Allen’s wrestling skills gives him the ability to get a firm grip on his opponent, the nose guard or defensive tackle, and drive him backwards or keep him immobile.
Through quick hand movements and getting underneath the pads of the opposing team, Allen can protect the quarterback and allow him to make the highlight reel. This occurs only after he has snapped the ball to his quarterback, and called out the blocking assignments for the line.
Jack Allen’s football career is still a work in progress, an excellent one no doubt. But to find the roots of this fine football career, you only have to look at the sweat stained mats in Hinsdale, Ill.
Nick Carver is the host of Pinned Down for Impact Sports.
Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports