Hinsdale Central graduate Brian Allen became the second member of his family to become a professional football player.
Two years ago, his older brother, Jack, signed a free-agent contract with the New Orleans Saints. He has yet to play an NFL game, spending last season on the injured reserve list. A three-time second-team All-Big Ten selection at Michigan State, Brian Allen was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth round on April 28. Allen, an Oak Brook resident, was the 111th overall selection in the draft. The 6-foot-1, 298-pound Allen started all 13 games at center for Michigan State in 2017, and closed out his career with 28 straight starts.
Allen discussed his path to the NFL with Pioneer Press freelance reporter Bob Narang on April 30.
Q: Did you have a big NFL Draft party on Saturday?
A: It was just me and my family. Once I got the call, some other people sprinkled in.
Q: What did you do to celebrate being drafted?
A: I was definitely very excited. I sat around the house and watched the rest of the draft, made some good food and enjoyed the time hanging out with my family.
Q: Were the Rams one of the teams that expressed interest in you before the draft?
A: I went out there a couple of weeks ago and had a really good visit. I met with their general manager, head coach and offensive line coach. That meeting went really well. On (the morning of April 28), the Rams were in contact with my agent and I had a feeling it would be them. I didn't think it would be that early. They said they were going to try and get me in the fifth or sixth round. Some other teams said the same thing, so they wanted to move up and get me before I wasn't there.
Q: The Rams are coming off a special season. They also made some big moves in the offseason to bolster their team. You have to be excited to be playing for a young, dynamic team?
A: They are definitely an up-and-coming team in the NFL, with a new and young coach and a lot of new guys this offseason. I'm excited to get out there. I grew up watching a lot of their guys on the team. It will be pretty cool to get into the locker room.
Q: The Rams have a young and talented quarterback in Jared Goff. Have to talked with him yet?
A: He texted me right after it happened. I also talked to him after Saturday.
Q: What's it mean to follow in Brian's steps? He completed his second season with New Orleans (and is now a free agent).
A: It's very special thing. This has been my goal since I was a little kid. To get to this point and it's a tangible thing and to say I'm in the NFL, is pretty cool. I'm excited and the credit goes to Michigan State and my family for putting in a lot of time and work to get me to this level.
Q: Your older brother, younger brother Matt and you all play center. What's the hardest thing about playing center?
A: The biggest thing is you have to know everything the quarterback knows, also most centers set up the blocking schemes and set up the whole thing upfront. You definitely need to have a whole lot more knowledge than the other players and be able to help the four other offensive linemen figure it out.
Q: Are you the best center in your family?
A: I think so. You have to be determined.
Q: What do you think you bring to the table and are strengths for the Rams?
A: I'm a tough, hard-nosed guy who's going to do a good job and learn as much as I can and see what will happen. I'm excited.
Q: What advice has Jack told you about life in the NFL?
A: He said to just get ready to work and earn my spot. Nothing special really.
Q: What has Michigan State meant to you and your family?
A: That place has been really my home for the last four years. I can't really put it into words. It means a lot to me.
Bob Narang is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.