Grinz on Green Blog: All-American Jack Allen Showcases His Versatility, Power with Move to Left Tackle
The 2014 Rimington Award finalist has made a smooth transition from center to left tackle.
Michigan State returns seven of nine starters along the offensive and defensive lines.
The Outland Trophy has been presented to college football’s most outstanding interior lineman since 1946.
The USA TODAY All-American was named one of six finalists for the 2014 Rimington Trophy.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio likes his team's resilience.
Now it's time to develop a knockout punch.
Connor Cook threw three touchdown passes and Nick Hill ran for two scores Saturday, but No. 8 Michigan State still needed a late interception return for a touchdown to hold on 45-31 at Purdue
The past two seasons, Staten has developed the top offensive lines in the coaching tenure of Mark Dantonio.
In 2014, the Spartans used a versatile eight-man playing rotation, which used five different starting lineups, to help clear the way for the best offensive attack in school history. Among the numerous records set last season, the Spartans rushed for the most yards (3,057) and touchdowns (44) in program history, and averaged 235.2 rushing yards per game, which ranked No. 19 in the NCAA Football Subdivision and was MSU's highest single-season average since 2005. MSU also allowed just 11 sacks, fewest in the Big Ten and tied for third fewest in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.
In addition, the Spartans featured the Big Ten's second-ranked scoring offense (43.0 ppg.) and total offense (500.8 ypg.), figures which stood at No. 7 and No. 11 in the NCAA FBS, respectively. MSU also featured the No. 1 passing offense in the conference (265.6 ypg.). The offensive line paved the way for Jeremy Langford, who recorded a school-record 10 straight 100-yard rushing games to close out his career and tied MSU single-season records for most rushing touchdowns (22) and points (132).
Junior Jack Allen, who was named a Rimington Trophy finalist for the nation's most outstanding center, became just the fourth center in school history to earn first-team All-America honors (USA TODAY). Allen also became just first Spartan center to garner first-team All-Big Ten honors since 1998.
Jack Conklin, a second-team All-Big Ten selection, enters his junior season in 2015 having started 23 consecutive games at left tackle; he has only allowed 2.5 sacks in 27 career games. Three-year starter Travis Jackson also picked up second-team all-league accolades in his first year as the starting left guard, while senior Connor Kruse started three different positions on the offense line and produced the most knockdowns of his career. Junior Donavon Clark, who started all 13 games, split time between right guard and right tackle, and sophomore Kodi Kieler started eight games at right tackle.
The eight-man rotation at offensive line, which also included freshman Brian Allen and junior Brandon Clemons, gave up just 11 sacks (53 yards) in 2014, fewest in the Big Ten and tied for third fewest in the FBS.
For the fourth straight season, Staten mentored a Freshman All-American, as Brian Allen earned first-team honors from the Football Writers Association of America and Scout.com. Conklin earned first-team honors from the FWAA, Sporting News and CollegeFootballNews.com in 2013, Allen was a first-team selection by the FWAA and Sporting News in 2012, and Jackson garnered Freshman All-America accolades in 2011 from Phil Steele and CollegeFootballNews.com.
In 2013, a versatile group which saw as many as eight linemen in the playing rotation was one of the main reasons why Michigan State continued to improve throughout the year on the offensive side of the ball in its Big Ten and Rose Bowl Championship season. All five starters received postseason recognition, including left guard Blake Treadwell (second-team All-Big Ten, coaches and media), center Jack Allen (second-team All-Big Ten, media), right tackle Fou Fonoti (honorable mention All-Big Ten), right guard Dan France (honorable mention All-Big Ten) and Conklin (first-team Freshman All-American by Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and CollegeFootballNews.com). In addition, Allen and Treadwell were each named to the ESPN.com Big Ten All-Bowl Team for their performances in the Rose Bowl Game victory over No. 5 Stanford. Jackson, Kruse and Clark also were instrumental to the line's success.
Michigan State not only protected first-year starting quarterback Connor Cook, as the line gave up just 17 sacks (second fewest in Big Ten and tied for 15th fewest in the FBS), but it also paved the way for Langford, who led the conference with 18 rushing touchdowns. When the game was on the line, the unit performed at its best - the Spartans ranked 16th in the FBS in fourth-quarter rushing (56.8 avg.) and ranked seventh in the nation in time of possession (33:19 per game).
Michigan State had to deal with multiple injuries throughout the first half of 2012, including the loss of starters Fonoti and Jackson. The Spartans used six different starting combinations along the offensive line, but still managed to pave the way for first-team All-Big Ten selection Le'Veon Bell, who led the Big Ten and ranked third in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing, averaging 137.9 yards per game. The line showed signs of improvement toward the end of the season, as Bell averaged 183.0 rushing yards when the Spartans used the same starting five up front for the last four games.
Allen earned first-team Freshman All-America honors from both Sporting News and the Football Writers Association of America. Allen started five games at left guard, then started the last seven games of the season at center while replacing Jackson, who earned Freshman All-America honors in 2011. Allen ranked second on the team with 59 knockdowns, including a team-leading 14 dominators. He 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 Bell for 145 yards on 32 carries against the Horned Frogs. In addition, senior right guard Chris McDonald, the only Spartan offensive lineman to start every game in 2012, earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades for the second straight year.
Heading into 2011, Michigan State's offensive line had to replace three starters, but Staten helped mold a young group that featured just one senior starter into one of the best in the Big Ten. Although the Spartans had to use four different starting combinations on the offensive line, including three different starting centers, the unit allowed just 16 sacks, second-fewest in the Big Ten and 19th-fewest in the FBS.
Fifth-year senior Joel Foreman, who anchored the line from left guard, garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors by the coaches and media to become MSU's first All-Big Ten first-team selection on the offensive line since 2004. Foreman also received national recognition, getting named on All-America teams by Yahoo! Sports (second team), Phil Steele (third team) and SI.com (honorable mention). He started more games (49) on the offensive line than any other Spartan in school history and tied the school record for most starts at any position.
Jackson started 10 of the last 11 games at center after missing the first three games with an ankle injury and went on to earn Freshman All-America honors from Phil Steele (first team) and CollegeFootballNews.com (second team). He was also named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team by ESPN.com, Yahoo! Sports and BTN.com.
Staten was instrumental in France's successful move from the defensive line to starting left tackle and Fonoti's transition from junior college to starting right tackle. Both were first-time starters on the offensive line in 2011 for the Spartans.
As tight ends/tackles coach, Staten's players collected All-Big Ten honors on seven occasions, including second-team tackle Pete Clifford (2007), second-team tackle Jesse Miller (2008), second-team tight end Charlie Gantt (2010) and second-team tackle D.J. Young (2010). In addition, Staten also helped Kellen Davis have his most productive year as a Spartan in 2007. Davis, a fifth-round NFL Draft pick by the Chicago Bears, recorded career highs in receptions (32), receiving yards (513) and touchdowns (6) as a senior.
In 2010, Staten oversaw two of the most talented tight ends in the Big Ten, in senior Charlie Gantt and Brian Linthicum. Gantt, who was a second-team All-Big Ten pick by the media, had 24 receptions for 301 yards and three touchdowns. He was an honorable mention All-American by SI.com and was named to the midseason watch list for the Mackey Award, which is awarded to the nation's top tight end. Gantt ranked among the top tight ends in Spartan history, finishing his career tied for third in TD receptions (9) and sixth in both receptions (65) and receiving yards (951).
Staten's mentoring of D.J. Young paid dividends in 2010 as Young moved from right tackle to left tackle. A second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches, Young and left guard Joel Foreman anchored an offensive line that ranked fifth in the Big Ten and 40th nationally in rushing during the regular season, averaging 168.8 ypg.
As recruiting coordinator, Staten helped put together a 2009 recruiting class that analysts ranked among the nation's Top 25 (MaxPreps/Tom Lemming No. 12, PrepStar No. 15, Rivals.com No. 17 and Scouts, Inc. No. 21). The Spartans followed that effort with another stellar class in 2010 that was ranked among the nation's Top 30 (MaxPreps/Tom Lemming No. 22, Rivals.com No. 29).
In 2009, four Spartan tight ends combined for 56 receptions, 780 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches. The group was led by Gantt, who earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors for the second straight year following his 22-catch, 348-yard performance as a junior. In addition to coaching the tight ends, Staten's work with the offensive line helped the unit allow the fewest amount of sacks in the Big Ten (14).
In 2008, Staten's offensive line unit helped pave the way for Javon Ringer, the nation's fourth-leading rusher and consensus first-team All-American. Under Staten's tutelage, right tackle Jesse Miller earned his first career Big Ten honors, garnering second-team accolades from the league's media.
Staten played an instrumental role in helping the Spartan offensive line become one of the best units in the Big Ten in 2007. He tutored left tackle Pete Clifford, who went on to earn second-team All-Big Ten honors. With the tight end position playing more of a prominent role in MSU's new offensive system, Staten also helped Kellen Davis have his most productive year as a Spartan. Davis, a fifth-round NFL Draft pick by the Chicago Bears, recorded career highs in receptions (32), receiving yards (513) and touchdowns (6) as a senior.
Following the 2006 regular season, Staten was one of eight assistant coaches to follow head coach Mark Dantonio from Cincinnati to East Lansing.
In 2006, Staten tutored team MVP Brent Celek, who set Cincinnati career records for receptions (88), receiving yards (1,114) and touchdowns (14) by a tight end. Celek, a second-team All-BIG EAST selection as a senior, was chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft and recently completed his sixth season with the Eagles.
Staten landed his first full-time coaching position on Dantonio's Cincinnati staff in 2004 and made an immediate impact as both the tight ends coach and the program's recruiting coordinator. In 2004, Celek set a UC single-season record for TD receptions by a tight end (8) en route to earning second-team All-Conference USA honors, while defensive end Anthony Hoke earned C-USA All-Freshman honors.
In 2005, Staten expanded his role to include coaching the offensive tackles as well as the tight ends. The tight end position continued to play a key role in UC's passing game, as Celek finished second on the team in both receptions (32) and receiving yards (361), plus two more products of the recruiting efforts, cornerback Mike Mickens and linebacker Corey Smith, earned Freshman All-America honors.
Prior to joining Cincinnati's coaching staff, Staten spent two seasons at Ohio State (2002-03), where he contributed to the Buckeyes' 2002 National Championship. As the offensive graduate assistant, he worked with the offensive linemen, tight ends and long snappers.
A four-year starter at defensive tackle at Miami-Ohio, Staten earned All-Mid-American Conference honors as a senior. He made the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad as a free agent in 1993 before being added to the New England Patriots' roster for the conclusion of the 1993 season as well as part of the 1994 campaign. Staten was drafted by the World Football League's Barcelona Dragons in 1995, but sustained a career-ending knee injury.
Staten started his coaching career in 1999 as an assistant coach at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif. He returned to Miami-Ohio in 2000 as a student assistant coach and was promoted to graduate assistant in 2001.
He graduated cum laude from Miami-Ohio in 2001, with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. In addition, Staten has started work on a master's degree in sports exercise science.
Staten and his wife Dana have two sons, Quinn and Maximus.
THE STATEN FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Ninth. Joined staff on Nov. 30, 2006, from Cincinnati.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College - Graduate assistant coach at Miami-Ohio (2001); graduate assistant coach at Ohio State (2002-03); tight ends/tackles and recruiting coordinator at Cincinnati (2004-06).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in elementary education from Miami-Ohio in 2001.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College - Four-year starter as a defensive tackle at Miami-Ohio (1989-92). Professional - Spent parts of two seasons in the National Football League, with the Cincinnati Bengals (1993) and New England Patriots (1993-94).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Coach - 2003 Fiesta, 2004 Fiesta, 2004 Fort Worth, 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl, 2015 Cotton Bowl.