AMES — One minute, Chase Allen was catching passes and clearing running lanes against opponents like Iowa and Oklahoma a year ago.
The next minute, Iowa State’s junior tight end was back on the injured list encouraging his teammates for five agonizing weeks until returning late in the season.
“Chase couldn’t have gotten off to a better start last year,” Cyclone head coach Matt Campbell noted during preseason media day. “He was playing really good football until he got hurt late in the Oklahoma game. I think the toughness of Chase to come back and help our team late in the season showed who he is.”
Allen, the son of former University of Northern Iowa, Kansas and Missouri State head coach Terry Allen, battled through injuries as a true freshman but returned to make nine starts and earn second-team all-Big 12 Conference honors in 2017. Last year’s setback was tougher to overcome.
“My first year when I had freak stuff happen that was like, whatever,” said Allen. “I feel like last year was the hardest one for me, especially starting off the year the way I did. I felt like I was on my way to having a great season and then having to take a step back ...”
Allen is healthy again and looking forward to playing a key role for an offense that plans to make good use of an experienced group of tight ends that also features sophomore Charlie Kolar and junior Dylan Soehner. In fact, the Cyclone attack may often employ more than one of its tight ends in the same offensive package.
“Again, what’s the next step for them? Can they be the x-factor?” asked Campbell. “Can they be consistent in those critical moments? It’s going to be fun to watch that. I thought those guys had great springs.”
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Kolar stepped up when Allen was injured a year ago and proved himself. Soehner found his own way to make an impact and an impression on his coaches.
“Dylan has had a very similar growth pattern to what Marcel Spears had,” noted Campbell. “He easily could have been our special teams MVP a year ago and was outstanding there. I think with that comes trust. How do we enhance him and how does he enhance our team?
“Midway through the spring he was probably the guy who was the catalyst of what we were doing at the time offensively.”
With a young receiving corps, the tight ends are ready to take on a larger role.
“I’m very confident in that we can handle so many diverse things on the field and we each have unique skill sets and we’re excited to show them off to everyone,” said Allen.
“That’s the blessing of the tight end position. You see teams like Iowa last year. They were able to be successful with multiple guys. It’s not like quarterback where you have one quarterback on the field. We can have a lot of us out there. It’s great. We can get reps, then go out and get a break and one guy won’t get burned down.
“I’m glad I’m here to complement (Kolar) and Dylan. I feel like as a group us three and more can handle a lot this year.”