Brian Allen Feature: Captain, Brother, Grandpa
Spartans Senior Center
By Cassi White, MSU Athletic Communications Student Assistant
He’s been through it all – the highs, the lows. He’s won a Big Ten Championship; he’s won a Cotton Bowl. He’s beaten Michigan three times and brought Paul Bunyan back to his rightful home in East Lansing. He’s also been through and fought through the adversity of a tough season.
These are all reasons why Brian Allen was voted captain by his teammates for the 2017 season. That, and his ability to lead, to teach and to treat all of his teammates like family. The ability to treat his teammates like family might be the easiest part for Allen, being that he’s had the opportunity to play with his older brother, Jack, and younger brother, Matt.
His older brother Jack was a two-time All-American and captain for the 2015 Big Ten Champions, and plays for the New Orleans Saints. His younger brother Matt is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman for the Spartans.
“To be honest, it’s something that you don’t really think about when you’re out there doing it,” Allen said of playing with his brothers. “It’s something that I’ll be able to look back on and think about how cool that was. At the same time, I’m so close with all of my teammates that I think of all of them as brothers, especially the o-line that I’m with all the time.”
The pride that Allen shows for his teammates is second to none, making their decision on calling him their captain an easy one. With his team being so young and having 53 players that are either freshmen or sophomores, Allen refers to himself as the “grandpa” of the group, leading by example and with his own experiences.
“It’s weird because I’ve always been the young guy here and have been playing since I was young,” he explained. “It’s just different being the old guy. At the same time, all the mistakes that young guys make now are the same mistakes that I made. It’s not something that I get frustrated with; it’s something that I can help them get through having gone through it before.”
The senior center realized that with experience and age comes a different kind of appreciation for the game, and for being a Spartan.
“What this program has done in the past five or so years and just being a part of that has been really special. It’s the classes before us that showed us how this is meant to be run and how their leadership got them to where they needed to be. I think that that’s something that we tried to emulate. Just the hard work and getting where we need to be will take us farther than being complacent and expecting things to come. Having that blue-chip mentality and going out and earning it.”
That blue chip and ‘earn the jersey’ mentality is something in which this whole Spartan team prides itself in. It’s something that the captain preaches and leads with, knowing how important this type of work ethic is to the program.
Brian Allen earned his jersey, rightfully so. He earned it right off the bat his freshman year, getting playing time and being named a first-team Freshman All-American. It only goes up from there.
He’s started the last 23 consecutive games, which happens to be the longest active streak on the team. He’s a highly versatile lineman, having started at center, left guard and right guard. He’s also a two-time second- team All-Big Ten selection.
Allen has been just as successful off the field. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Allen is an economics major with a 3.24 GPA, and this fall was named a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is widely known as the “Academic Heisman.”
“In my free time, all I really do is watch film and get ready for the next game or practice. I do it because I love football. I take pride in it and want to be really good at it. If I don’t do that, that won’t happen.”
Allen only has one more home game left in Spartan Stadium and has every intention of leaving everything out on the field for his teammates and Spartan Nation.
Only one more time that he’ll be able to do the Spartan Walk. The 10-minute walk from the Kellogg Center to Spartan Stadium with fans lining the streets yelling “Go Green! Go White!”
Only one more time that he’ll walk around the bend during the walk and hear AC/DC coming from the same tailgate that’s been there every game for the last four years. And even though Allen admits he doesn’t particularly like AC/DC, just hearing it lets him know that it’s almost game time. It’s almost time to go to battle with his family. His brothers.
And that’s what he’ll miss the most. Being with his teammates, his brothers, his family. The people with whom he’s spent the last four years.
His coaches. Coach Dantonio and Coach Staten. The people that are father figures to him. The people that helped him become a man, and of course, taught him a thing or two about football.
Because when it’s all said and done, those are the things that he’ll remember and cherish forever. The Big Ten Championship was great.
The Cotton Bowl was great. Beating Michigan is always great. But the people he’s met and the relationships he’s built are even better.
“You’re around your teammates everyday for four years and all of a sudden you’re told you have to leave and not be around them anymore. It’s going to be pretty sad not being with your friends that you’ve been with everyday for the last four years,” Allen explained.
And that’s the kind of person people want leading their team. The kind of captain that wants to watch film any opportunity he can. The kind of captain who wants to spend time with his teammates. The kind of captain who wants to lead.
When the 2017 squad voted, that’s the kind of captain they got.