Fifth-year senior center Jack Allen earned first-team honors, while junior offensive tackle Jack Conklin and fifth-year senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun were named to the second and third teams, respectively.
EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ No. 3 Michigan State (12-1 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) has placed three linemen on The Associated Press All-American Team: fifth-year senior center Jack Allen (first team), junior offensive tackle Jack Conklin (second team) and fifth-year senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun (third team). The AP All-America Teams were announced on Sunday, Dec. 13.
Last week, those three Spartans earned All-America honors from other media outlets: Allen (CBS Sports â€“ first team; SI.com â€“ first team; USA TODAY â€“ second team; Walter Camp â€“ second team), Conklin (USA TODAY â€“ first team; Walter Camp â€“ second team; SI.com â€“ honorable mention) and Calhoun (CBS Sports â€“ second team; Walter Camp â€“ second team; SI.com â€“ honorable mention).
Allen previously was named one of three finalists for the Rimington Trophy, which is presented annually to the most outstanding center in college football.
One of the most decorated offensive linemen in school history, Allen earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015 for the second year in a row. He is only the fifth Spartan on the offensive line to garner first-team All-Big Ten accolades twice (Ellison Kelly, 1957-58; David Behrman, 1961-62; Joe DeLamielleure, 1971-72, Tony Mandarich, 1987-88) and just the second center (Behrman).
â€œJack Allen is a two-time All-American, who possesses a tremendous amount of experience and his leadership level is often unmatched,â€ MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. â€œHe leads as well as any player that Iâ€™ve ever had. Jack is an outstanding athlete â€“ with great hands and feet â€“ who plays with power, confidence and toughness. Heâ€™s an impact player, who has the ability to make others around him better.â€
A tough, tenacious and versatile lineman, Allen has started 11 games at center for the Spartans in 2015 while helping lead the team to a Big Ten Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff. He started the first six games at center, but missed the Michigan and Indiana games with a lower leg injury he suffered in the Rutgers game in Week 6; he returned to the starting lineup in Week 9 vs. Nebraska. He also played at left tackle vs. Purdue and Rutgers due to injuries along the offensive line.
The 6-foot-2, 296-pound Allen graded out at an All-America level in the win over Penn State on Senior Day in his last appearance at Spartan Stadium, leading the team with 10 knockdowns and also rushing for a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Hinsdale, Illinois, native led the Spartans with nine knockdowns at Ohio State as the Spartans rushed for 203 yards and ended the second-ranked Buckeyesâ€™ 23-game winning streak. He was named the Spartan Offensive Player of the Week against Maryland and Central Michigan.
Allen, a 2014 USA TODAY first-team All-American, has played in 47 career games, including 46 starts (41 at center, five at left guard), and has only allowed three career sacks. The co-captain has registered more than 285 career knockdowns and was a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy (nationâ€™s top scholar-athlete).
A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, Conklin was named Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week a team-best four times (Western Michigan, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State) during the regular season. Although he missed two games (Purdue, Rutgers) with a leg injury, Conklin still collected 65.5 knockdowns and graded out a winner in eight of his 10 regular-season games.
â€œJack Conklin is a gifted athlete, who embodies all of the qualities of the ideal left tackle,â€ Dantonio said. â€œHeâ€™s an intelligent player, who runs extremely well for his size. Jack has been an impact player in our starting lineup for the last three years, and his toughness permeates the entire offensive line.â€
The Plainwell, Michigan, native began his junior season by being named the Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week against Western Michigan, and followed that effort with a team-best 9.5 knockdowns in the win over No. 7 Oregon.
After missing two games, Conklin registered a Big Ten Championship level grade for his performance in the win at No. 12 Michigan, which included 7.5 knockdowns, to earn Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week laurels. He picked up the award for the second week in a row with eight knockdowns vs. Indiana.
Following MSUâ€™s 17-14 win at No. 2 Ohio State on Nov. 21, Conklin again was named the Spartan Offensive Lineman of the Week as Michigan State rushed for 203 yards against the nationâ€™s third-ranked defense and ended the defending National Champion Buckeyesâ€™ 23-game winning streak. In the regular-season finale at Penn State, Conklin compiled 8.5 knockdowns and the Spartans held the Nittany Lions without a sack for the first time all season.
Conklin has seen action in 38 career games, including 37 starts (34 at left tackle, three at right tackle). A three-year starter, Conklin has helped the Spartans to two Big Ten Championships (2013, 2015) and two bowl wins (2014 Rose, 2015) during his time in the starting lineup, in addition to a berth in the College Football Playoff this season. With a healthy offensive line, the Spartans have averaged 188.3 rushing yards per game over the last three contests, including wins over No. 2 Ohio State, Penn State and No. 4 Iowa.
Calhoun was named first-team All-Big Ten for the third year in a row, becoming the first Spartan defensive lineman in school history to earn first-team honors three times.
Calhoun, who was named the 2013 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and also earned first-team All-Big Ten accolades in 2013 and 2014, leads the Spartans in tackles for loss (14.5 for 81 yards), sacks (10.5 for 74 yards) and quarterback hurries (18). He has recorded career highs in tackles (45), tackles for loss and sacks in 2015. Calhoun ranks third in the Big Ten in sacks and sixth in tackles for loss.
In addition to becoming the first Spartan defensive lineman to garner first-team All-Big Ten honors three times, he is just the eighth Spartan in school history to accomplish the feat and the first since linebacker Greg Jones (2008-10).
Calhoun was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award and a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (college defensive player of the year), Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year) and Lott IMPACT Trophy.
â€œShilique Calhoun continues to be a dominant, disruptive force on the defensive line,â€ Dantonio said. â€œHe has the flair for providing a spark when the team needs it, with tackles for losses, sacks and blocked field goals. Shilique is a veteran player with an extensive amount of knowledge of our entire defense, who plays with great effort and toughness. Heâ€™s an impact player and his teammates continue to feed off his energy.â€
He matched his season high with six tackles in MSUâ€™s 16-13 victory over No. 4 Iowa in the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game, with three resulting in losses (17 yards) including two sacks (16 yards). Calhoun also was credited with one forced fumble and a QB hurry. The Spartans limited the Hawkeyes to 13 first downs, 52 rushing yards (24 carries) and 268 total yards.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Calhoun was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season and third time of his career following his performance in the 27-23 win at No. 12 Michigan on Oct. 17. Calhoun, who wore No. 43 in tribute to injured linebacker Ed Davis, recorded five tackles, including a career-best 3.5 for losses (11 yards) against the Wolverines. His tackles for losses included two sacks (6 yards). The Spartan defense forced Michigan to go three-and-out on six possessions and limited the Wolverines to a season low in total yards (230).
He also was named the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week after recording a season-high six tackles in No. 2 Michigan Stateâ€™s 30-10 victory Central Michigan on Sept. 26, with three resulting in losses (24 yards) including 2.5 sacks (24 yards). Calhoun also was credited with four quarterback hurries, one pass break-up and a blocked kick against CMU. He finished the game with a team-high 37 production points, the most by a Spartan defensive player this season.
The Middletown, New Jersey, native ranks among MSUâ€™s all-time leaders in tackles for loss yardage (first with 267), sacks (second with 27), sack yardage (second with 211), tackles for loss (fourth with 43.5), and fumble recoveries (tied for 10th with five). In 53 career games, including 40 consecutive starts, he has 127 tackles with 43.5 resulting in losses (34 percent). His 27 sacks are the most by any Spartan in the Dantonio era and rank second among active players in the NCAA FBS.
Michigan State, which finished No. 3 in the final College Football Playoff rankings, will face No 2 Alabama (12-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, with the semifinal scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ET in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It marks MSUâ€™s second-straight appearance in the Cotton Bowl Classic, as the Spartans rallied from a 20-point deficit for a 42-41 win over No. 4 Baylor in 2015.