Although his first season at Indiana was focused on defense, an offensive player also captured Tom Allen’s attention shortly after his arrival in Bloomington last winter.
It was Dan Feeney, one of the best players in college football.
That fact was reaffirmed Monday when Feeney was recognized by the Associated Press as a first team All-American, making him the fourth Hoosier in program history to become a back-to-back first-team honoree.
“We’re so proud of him,” Allen said.
For good reason, Feeney has become one of the faces of IU’s program during the past two years. The senior lineman has top-round NFL Draft potential as an offensive guard after providing stability and power for a line that has produced four 1,000-yard rushers across the last three seasons.
Former IU coach Kevin Wilson often lauded Feeney’s consistency during the practice week, let alone on Saturdays. Allen saw that side of Feeney, too, and it will always stick with him.
“Obviously, you watch film and he sticks out,” Allen said. “But then when you start practicing, I will just never forget the effort he gave every day. It did not matter — he blocks downfield and just gave tremendous, tremendous effort in every drill.”
That effort wasn’t always limited to offense, either.
Allen recalled one particular special teams drill earlier this year that involved IU’s offensive linemen and allowed Feeney to showcase his impressive movement and athleticism for a 6-foot-4, 305-pound big man.
“That was one where we as a staff noted to the whole team that it was probably the one time that the scouts commented the most of anything he did all day,” Allen said. “It was the effort he gave and what he was able to do in that special teams drill.”
Feeney was recognized Monday as a guard, though he’s started at right tackle during the final four weeks of the regular season. He joins Anthony Thompson (1988, 1989), John Isenbarger (1967, 1968) and Pete Pihos (1943, 1945) as the only Hoosiers to receive first team honors in back-to-back seasons.
Feeney built name recognition during the past two seasons as one of the top offensive linemen in the nation. This season, he missed 18 quarters while he recovered from a concussion sustained during the season game of the year. Feeney returned in mid-October at Northwestern and authored a senior season that saw him allow only one sack, which came while he was flexed out as a right tackle.
In 45 career games — 41 of which included starts at right guard — Feeney has allowed merely two sacks during a span of 3,278 snaps.
“He’s just a tremendous leader, a tremendously hard worker and he kind of embodies the toughness and the mentality of our program,” Allen said. “He’s worked so hard. It was unfortunate that he missed several games this year, which hurt him with some other opportunities, but at the same time he’s a two-time All-American for a reason. He will be and will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of our program.”
With junior linebacker Tegray Scales earning second team SI.com All-American recognition, this is the third consecutive year that at least one Hoosier has received All-America honors.
“I think it’s a tribute to what coach (Kevin Wilson) has done offensively with Dan on that side of the ball,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “When I talked to our defensive guys, we said that was the first linebacker (to earn All-America honors) since 1987. That’s a team award. Tegray gets recognized for that, but I told our guys when I first got here that when our defense plays well, you’ll get recognized individually. That’s how it works.”