IOWA CITY, Iowa – Michigan State senior Jack Allen is widely regarded as the top center in the Big Ten, with Iowa senior Austin Blythe not far behind.
“I think he’s a really good football player,” Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz said of Jack Allen, who was recruited heavily by Iowa in high school. “I think Austin is a good football player. And the rest of the landscape of the league, I couldn’t tell you with certainty off the top of my head. I’m not trying to leave anyone out. But those are the two guys that stand out to me in the league that have played a lot of football and played at a high level.”
The fact that Allen is ranked slightly above Blythe as a center is based on more than just individual talent, according to Brian Ferentz.
“Right now, Jack Allen gets a little more attention than Austin,” Brian Ferentz said. “They’ve won a lot more games over the past two seasons. They’ve won 24 games and we haven’t. We’ve won 15. So I understand why one gets a lot of attention and why one guy doesn’t.
“And I think what we need to do, the best thing we could do, the best thing Austin could do to help himself get a little attention is go out and win football games. It’s hard to ignore you when you win football games.”
Michigan State has won 11 and 13 games, respectively, in the past two seasons, while Iowa finished 7-6 last season and 8-5 in 2013. Allen made first-team all-Big Ten last season, while Blythe was selected to the second team.
“If you look at the all-Big Ten teams, they’re usually dominated by the teams that finish one, two three in the league,” Brian Ferentz said. “If we want to get attention individually, I think the best thing for us to do is create it collectively as a team.”
Former starting left tackle Brandon Scherff was the only Hawkeye to earn first-team all-Big Ten accolades last season. He also was a consensus all-America selection and the 2014 Outland Trophy winner.
Michigan State, on the other hand, had five players that made first-team all-Big Ten last season.
Allen’s younger brother, Brian Allen, also starts on Michigan State’s offensive line at left guard. He earned Freshmen All-America honors last season.
A third brother, Matt Allen, committed to Michigan State in February and is entering his senior year of high school in Hinsdale, Ill.
All three of the Allen brothers were recruited extensively by Iowa before picking the Spartans.
“I learned my lesson the hard way about trying to recruit brothers; don’t waste your time,” Brian Ferentz said. “Spend time on the ones who have brothers here.”
ALMOST A COSTLY OVERSIGHT: It’s probably fair to say that Iowa sophomore offensive lineman Boone Myers was underrated as a recruit, even by his current coaches.
Instead of offering Myers a scholarship directly out of high school, the Iowa coaches convinced him to join the team as a walk-on.
Myers has since earned a scholarship and will replace Scherff as Iowa’s starting left tackle.
“Frankly, I think we did a poor job of recruiting because we almost didn’t get him,” Brian Ferentz said of Myers, who is from Webster City. “We didn’t scholarship him and we were fortunate that he did choose to walk-on here and prove us wrong.
“And it didn’t long. It took about three minutes of one practice.”