AMES, Iowa — Tight end Chase Allen isn’t the star player at Iowa State.
He isn’t even the star player at his own position — that’s Charlie Kolar. But if anyone at the Bergstrom football facility gets asked, “Who’s the face of Iowa State football?”
They all have one answer, and that person is Allen.
“If there’s ever gonna be a salute to this era of football here at Iowa State I think the pillar of that salute should be around Chase Allen,” coach Matt Campbell said. “I mean, nobody cares about this place more. And boy, Chase had a multitude of different opportunities to go to a multitude of different schools that had far greater traditions and far greater success at the time. And Chase came here.”
The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Allen was Iowa State's first high-profile recruit and he chose Iowa State during a time when 3-9 seasons were the norm. He had offers from Michigan, Florida State, Nebraska and others but went with the Cyclones.
When he arrived on campus, things weren’t easy for him. He got hit by a car while crossing a street as a freshman and he had to get 103 stitches, he got mono while he was a freshman, too. When he was a redshirt sophomore he suffered an injury that required off-season surgery but he still played in eight games, including the bowl game.
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Despite all he went through, Allen was still named to the All-Big 12 Second-Team three times. He has a chance to be a four-time All-Big 12 Second-Team player this season.
Allen, a sixth-year senior, has 20 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown.
That doesn't mention what Allen has done in the classroom where he's a five-time First-Team Academic All-Big 12 member as an engineering major. Currently, he's a graduate student in Iowa State's industrial and systems manufacturing graduate program.
“Chase has come here and what he's overcome, what he does for our football team day in and day out — and whatever picture they put for Chase Allen, it should be the hurdle that he had against Texas Tech, because, man, that's him. He's always straining.”
Allen, a high school hurdler, made the play of his career against the Red Raiders when he lept over a Texas Tech defender after making a catch.
“We saw on film that when they tackled tight ends, they were taking legs out,” Allen said. “And I was tired of getting my legs taken out, so when I caught the ball, I thought immediately, ‘I’m trying to hurdle someone.’ I went up and I cleared him and thought, “Oh sweet, I landed it.’”
That play resulted in a 21-yard gain for the Cyclones that set up a Charlie Kolar touchdown a few plays later.
“Yeah that was pretty awesome,” Kolar said of Allen’s hurdle. “He’s a pretty incredible athlete and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. It was awesome. I was right there and I turned to him and I thought he was flying.
“He’s an incredible athlete but also he’s an amazing teammate. It’s awesome when things like that happen because then people really get to appreciate how good he really is.”
Before the Texas Tech game happened, offensive coordinator Tom Manning was the first to proclaim Allen as the face of Iowa State football.
“I think a lot of those seniors are the identity of who we feel our team is,” Manning said. “Like Chase Allen. When I think of Iowa State football, I think Chase Allen. Just in terms of how he does everything, and the passion he plays with. I'm going to miss that kid the most. I mean, certainly, I think our program will miss the player just in terms of production and how he played but he’s just such a tremendous person.”
Manning spent time coaching tight ends at Iowa State while being its offensive coordinator, so he has an even closer connection to Allen than others.
“It means a whole lot coming from coach Manning,” Allen said. “I love him with all of my heart. He works so hard for this program and sacrifices so much. He grinds himself to a pulp every week. I don’t know how he’s still walking.
“He works so hard and he doesn’t sleep. I don't know where or when he sleeps but he doesn’t. Hearing that from him means a lot. We have a great relationship. He’s been here the entire time I’ve been here. He’s been my position coach and I hope to have a great relationship with him for the rest of my life.”
While Allen talked about the sacrifices others have made for him and the team, Campbell can’t help but think of the sacrifices Allen has made. He’s a player who has never been the star but who he is and what he’s about has allowed others to be stars.
He has no problem blocking for running back Breece Hall, or putting a chip block on a defensive end before running his route to give quarterback Brock Purdy an extra second in the pocket.
“He's sacrificed his body, he’s sacrificed his eligibility and he sacrificed leaving for the NFL early,” Campbell said. “He sacrificed going to school X, Y, and Z to come here and make a difference. And to me, what's it mean to be a great Cyclone? I think that means to give more of yourself than you take from the program. And that is Chase Allen.
“We're beyond proud of him. Who he is, is really special and who he is has made our program really special.”