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AMES — Bad things happen in threes. Or at least that’s the saying Chase Allen chooses to believe.
During his first year with the Iowa State football team last fall, Allen was hit by a car that left him with 103 stitches, came down with the mumps and got a secondary infection that resulted in meningitis — he was hospitalized for four days.
It was rough.
“It definitely wasn’t what I planned to happen when I first got to college,” Allen said. “I lost about 20 pounds the UNI week (season opener) and then definitely redshirting made sense after that point.
“As a competitor I always want to be on that field, so watching those games on Saturdays, sometimes not going with the team, that hurt and I just used it for fuel.”
Had that series of unfortunate events not befell Allen, perhaps he would have played as a true freshman. Now, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound tight end has four years to put his knowledge to good use.
Allen, the son of former Northern Iowa football coach Terry Allen, was highly sought after toward the end of his recruitment last winter — Nebraska and Michigan were heavily involved. What Iowa State got in Allen was what it has strived to get at every position: versatility.
“He’s a long and rangy guy, but I think I’m most impressed with his development as a blocker,” said offensive coordinator Tom Manning. “Really I’ve seen it grow even since the beginning of spring. I think a lot of credit goes to him and a lot of credit goes to (tight ends) Coach (Alex) Golesh.”
Much of the focus during Allen’s first fall and winter offseason was focused on bulking up. He’s added 10 to 15 pounds since high school — even more if you count what he lost during his illness — and has been able to lead a transformation of the Cyclones’ tight ends.
What Allen can do for Iowa State is keep the tempo as turned up as possible. Because he can play attached to the offensive line as well as split out at wide receiver, pass block and run block, he’s like a chess piece that can create matchup problems for the defense.
Growing up in a house where his dad was a head football coach also gave Allen a different way of analyzing the game. It also made him learn how to take coaching.
“Chase is like the ultimate guy you want to coach,” Golesh said. “If you told him he had to play week 11, he would have played week 11. You could tell he grew up in a house where dad was in charge; mom was in charge, but dad was a football coach where he was going to do whatever we asked him to do.”
In Iowa State’s spring game last weekend Allen had one catch for 15 yards, and fought through contact to get a few extra yards. His focus is still on gaining weight, but he has an added appreciation for not getting thrown in the mix too early.
Now Allen will finally get his shot to be a contributor this fall.
“I’ve been yearning for this,” Allen said. “All fall I had to sit out and then finally getting the chance to get on the field and compete, it was just like, man, things just finally started clicking.
“All that work we put in, all I learned last year just from watching really paid off and I feel like I’m in a much better spot now.”
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