Boston — Imagine what passers-by must have thought about Zach Allen’s father on those bitter cold Connecticut days when they saw him pitching batting practice to his pre-teen son at the park.
Must be one of those crazed Little League dads, sucking all the fun out of the game.
“What they didn’t realize was I was begging Zachary, ‘You know, can’t we go in? It’s freezing out here,’” Michael Allen said.
With some prodding by a persistent and prescient high school coach, Zach Allen put down the bat and glove and decided to concentrate on football.
Now, Allen’s regimented focus and first-to-arrive-last-to-leave work ethic has made him into one of the best defensive linemen in college football as he heads into his senior season at Boston College.
That’s a real feat this year.
The NFL draft next year will be filled with blue chip defensive linemen, highlighted by Houston’s Ed Oliver, Michigan’s Rashan Gary, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa and the entire Clemson defensive front.
Allen doesn’t have the name recognition or magazine covers, but NFL scouts know all about him. He was one of only two defensive linemen credited with at least 100 tackles last season and might have slipped into the first round of the last draft had he decided to leave early.
Instead he chose to return to anchor the defense for what could be the best BC team since Matt Ryan was quarterback there 12 years ago.
“You want to be part of that so you can come back 10, 15, 30 years with your family and say, ‘Yeah, we were able to come together and we were able to do this,’” Zach Allen said.
Allen excelled in baseball, basketball and football growing up. During his freshman year at New Cannan High School in Connecticut, Allen came to the conclusion he needed to drop one sport if he wanted to continue playing at a high level and getting straight A’s.
Since he dreamed of being the next Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter, he chose to quit football before the start of spring practice.
New Cannan coach Lou Marinelli did not like Allen’s idea.
“I said, ‘Give me your father’s phone number,’” said Marinelli, who is going into his 38th season coaching at the school.
Marinelli left a voicemail for Michael Allen, who remembers it well.
“ ‘Mr. Allen, I have your son standing in my office. Could you give me a call? I just heard the stupidest something-something thing in 40 years of coaching,’ ” Allen said, cleaning up Marinelli’s language.
Marinelli moved Zach Allen to varsity, played him at outside linebacker and the Allens have been thanking him ever since.
K-State re-signs Snyder
So much for Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, 78, retiring anytime soon.
Just days after saying he felt energized heading into this season, the school announced Thursday it had signed Snyder to a new five-year contract that includes a pay bump to $3.45 million this season and could keep Snyder with the Wildcats through the 2022 season.