MSU's Allen, McDowell, UM's Cole earn freshman honors

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State's Brian Allen and Malik McDowell were named to the freshman All-American team on Wednesday, as voted by the Football Writers Association of America.

Allen, an offensive lineman, and McDowell, a defensive lineman, are part of six Big Ten players selected to the 30-man team, joining Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Michigan offensive lineman Mason Cole, Rutgers defensive lineman Kemoko Turay and Nebraska punt returner De'Mornay Pierson-El. Michigan State is the only Big Ten team and one of just four schools (Alabama, Baylor and USC) with multiple players named to the FWAA Freshman All-America Team.

It is the eighth time in the last nine seasons that a Spartan has earned a spot, joining placekicker Brett Swenson (2006), linebacker Greg Jones (2007), offensive guard Joel Foreman (2008), defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (2009), defensive end Marcus Rush (2011), offensive lineman Jack Allen (2012), offensive lineman Jack Conklin (2013) and placekicker Michael Geiger (2013).

The 6-foot-2, 294-pound Allen, the brother of junior Jack Allen, played in 12 of 13 games and saw action at both guard positions as well as center. Allen, who played 277 snaps during the regular season, recorded 24.5 knockdowns and allowed only a half sack.

"Strong and extremely intelligent, Brian Allen continues to work hard at getting better," offensive line coach Mark Staten said. "He is a perfectionist, who focuses on winning each individual battle while helping the team get the 'W.' Regardless of the success he had this year, Brian never looked at it as being good enough. His ability to play left and right guard as well as center — all in the same game — didn't slow him down."

McDowell, 6-6 and 286 pounds, played in all 13 games and recorded 15 tackles (10 solos, five assists), with 41/2 resulting in losses, including 11/2sacks. He also was credited with two quarterback hurries and made his first career start in the Cotton Bowl victory over Baylor.

"Malik McDowell has the physical ability to become a dominant defensive lineman at this level," coach Mark Dantonio said. "Malik continued to develop as a player throughout the season and played a lot of quality minutes down the stretch and eventually earned a spot in the starting lineup against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. He has the size and strength to be an impact player on the defensive front."

The 6-foot-5, 292-pound Cole started all 12 games for the Wolverines, becoming the first true freshman in Michigan history to start a season opener on the offensive line.