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MSU's Brian Allen had 'gut feeling' he would be Rams' pick

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Brian Allen

Brian Allen ended up exactly where he thought he would, and in the process, he kept alive a decades-long streak for Michigan State’s football program.

The former Spartan was taken No. 111 overall Saturday in the fourth round of the NFL Draft as the Los Angeles Rams chose the MSU captain and second-team All-Big Ten honoree.

“Honestly, I was telling my agent that I think the Rams are going to take me,” Allen said. “I think this is where it’s going to be. … This was kind of my gut feeling, but I didn’t want to have my expectations too high. Once I was getting a call from Thousand Oaks, I didn’t know if they were just calling me to mess around or what, but I was pretty excited.

“I’m not lying when I was saying that we thought this was going to be the spot since the beginning, so I’m glad it came to fruition.”

The fact Allen (6-foot-2, 302 pounds) was selected didn’t qualify as a surprise. The fact he went in the fourth round comes a little closer.

However, Allen said earlier this week that at least five or six teams told him they planned to draft him. The three-year starter for the Spartans interviewed with more than 20 teams at the NFL Combine in early March and continued to have meetings and a handful of workouts leading up to the draft.

One of those workouts was in Los Angeles.

“This was one of my top-30 visits and I came away from there with a pretty good feeling and I felt the feelings were mutual between me and the coaching staff,” Allen said. “I’m just really excited to have the opportunity to get out there.”

Allen played in 51 games in his career, starting at center and both guard positions. It showed versatility that paid off on Saturday. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors three straight seasons, including as a sophomore in 2015 when Michigan State reached the College Football Playoff.

“We’re very excited for Brian Allen and his family,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “He enjoyed incredible success here at Michigan State, both individually and as a leader on our football team that won a lot of games during his career. The characteristics that define Brian are perseverance, grit and intelligence. He is a very powerful, tough-minded and confident player with the right mentality to succeed as an offensive lineman in the NFL. He was well-coached and developed at several positions by (offensive line coach) Mark Staten, and was one of the finest centers in all of college football. Brian was really the Rams’ second pick in the draft, so that shows you how highly they value him as an organization.”

As big as it was for Allen, his selection means Michigan State has had a player taken in every draft since 1967, the year after the NFL-AFL merger marked the beginning of the modern era of the league’s annual selection of college players. Entering the draft, only four other programs – Michigan, Florida, Nebraska and Southern Cal – had accomplished the same feat.

In fact, the Spartans have now had a player taken in every year of the NFL Draft since 1941, a 78-year run that is bested only by Michigan and USC, which have had a player taken for 80 consecutive years.

“Michigan State will forever be represented in the NFL,” Dantonio said, “and we’re excited that Brian is the latest to join a long line of Spartans to play at the highest level of football.”

Allen was at home in Hinsdale, Ill., with his family watching the draft. In fact, when the call came, he was outside with his brother, Jack, the eldest of the three Allen brothers. It was just a couple of years ago that the family gathered only for Jack Allen to go undrafted.

The two former MSU captains were together when the news came.

“I was on the phone and I was giving my older brother a fist bump,” Brian Allen said. “He immediately went into my parents and they didn’t really know what was going on, so he started pointing at the TV. Everyone is excited.”

How Allen fits into the Rams’ plans remains to be seen. He’s played all three positons in the interior of the offensive line and is willing to do whatever is asked of him by the team.

“In college (guard is) really all I played until this last season, so I feel just as good at left guard, as I do right guard and just as good at those positions as I do center,” Allen said. “I’ve taken a lot of reps there and feel that I can play that position too if need be.”