Jonathan Allen leaves Alabama as one of the most decorated defensive linemen in the school’s storied history after taking home the Lombardi Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and earning an invitation to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Likely to be a high first-round draft selection in the upcoming NFL draft, Allen wanted to reach to the Crimson Tide fans one last time before donning his new uniform at the next level.
In a recently published Player’s Tribune article, Allen discussed what it was like walking into the Alabama program, his experience being recruited by head coach Nick Saban, and the most support he’s every received from Alabama fans — which actually came after a tough loss.
According to Allen, the key to the Tide’s success is the fact the team is united as one. The only argument he could recall during his lengthy career in Tuscaloosa centered around the team fighting over which unit would be stronger, all the U.S. Army All-Americans on the roster versus all the Under Armour All-Americans on the roster.
Considering the high volume of players on Alabama’s roster to chose from that participated in each all-star event, those squads would likely be more talented than just about any team on Alabama’s schedule year in and year out.
When it came down to his recruitment, Allen was a five-star prospect in the 2013 recruiting cycle, he decided to only take one official visit, which was to Tuscaloosa. Allen did his best to explain why Saban is such an elite recruiter and said it comes down to his honesty and his straightforward approach.
Well, I wish I had something more provocative to share. The truth is, Coach Saban just … got me. He really just got me. The other coaches — honestly, for most people, I don’t even think it occurs to them that someone might not love the recruiting process. I think they figure, you know, Who doesn’t love being the center of attention? Who doesn’t love nonstop positivity, or endless praise? And so I think 99% of recruiting experiences are the same. Very rah-rah, very extra. But there’s something about Coach Saban that, for whatever reason, is just … different. Coach Saban isn’t going to sit there, and put on a big smile, and promise you this and that. He isn’t going to tell you that you’re a surefire starter, or an All-SEC shoo-in, or a first-round NFL pick. He isn’t going tell your mom, “Wow … this has to be the best pot roast I’ve ever had.”
In fact, Saban did not even try Allen’s mother’s pot roast – he politely declined it upon his visit to the Allen home. According to Allen, Saban claimed he had already ate. While many would take Saban’s choice as an insult, Allen again admired his honesty and realized Saban wasn’t there to put on a show for the heralded recruit and his family.
Allen also discussed arguably his most disappointing moment, the National Championship Game loss to Clemson. The star lineman claims Saban lifted up the spirits of the team immediately after the game, telling the team, “One game doesn’t define you.” According to Allen, the fans echoed that sentiment, as well.
People on the outside probably imagined us getting chewed out after the Clemson game. Our coach, yelling at us, after we failed to execute. Our fan base, turning against us, after we came up short. But what actually happened that night couldn’t be further from those things. Here’s the truth: The night that I felt most loved, and most supported, by the supposed “win first, everything else second” Alabama football community….
Was after a loss.
Allen believes his decision to come to Alabama shaped who he has become and best prepared him for his next challenge in life. Considering all that he has accomplished at the college level, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
You can read Allen’s full Player’s Tribune post here.