The first time Stone Bridge High School football coach Mickey Thompson saw Jonathan Allen, he didn’t know what to make of him.
Allen’s athleticism was obvious, but he wasn’t fast enough to play running back and his hands weren’t better than the receivers already on Stone Bridge’s team in Ashburn, Virginia.
“So he’s sitting three-deep, three-deep everywhere, and he’s not playing, it doesn’t look like he’s going to play much,” Thompson said. “… [We thought] if we put him on the edge he can cause havoc and it’s a pretty easy position to teach initially, just go get the quarterback.”
Havoc, mayhem, destruction — you name it, Jonathan caused it. His success on the defensive line was apparent from the beginning.
“Games were out of control,” Thompson said. “There were games where people would have -80 yards of rushing. They couldn’t get off the line of scrimmage. Then everybody started putting guys on him and then they didn’t have enough guys to block the other guys [on our team].”
It took Allen a few years to earn significant snaps for the Crimson Tide, but once he did, the consensus 5-star picked up right where he left off. He finished the 2015 season ranked No. 17 nationally with 12 sacks. This season, he has already surpassed the number of tackles he recorded last season (he currently has 46) and continues to find the quarterback (seven sacks so far.)
Coach Nick Saban didn’t know if the defensive lineman would become anything more than a pass-rusher for Alabama when he first arrived in Tuscaloosa. Those concerns no longer exist.
“What he’s grown into because he’s gotten bigger and stronger, he meets all the size criteria for his position,” Saban said. “He still has those athletic qualities he had when he weighed 250 or 260 pounds and he’s very athletic and it makes him a unique pass rusher when it comes to the power and strength that he has.”
Allen’s athleticism has thrust him squarely into the Heisman conversation. Between the sacks and the fumble returns — Jonathan has returned two for 105 yards and a pair of scores — the country has taken notice.
The Associated Press and CBS Sports both have him No. 4 in their current predictions for the prestigious award, while ESPN’s panel has him a little lower at No. 7.
If the people of Stone Bridge had anything to do about it, Jonathan would probably win the award in a landslide. When he makes a play for the Crimson Tide, it doesn’t take much time until the entire Ashburn community hears about it.
“[With] the kids there’s a sense of pride and ownership [they’re like] ‘hey this is where Jon Allen went to school,’” Stone Bridge defensive coordinator R.J. Windows said. “And the minute he makes plays on Saturdays there’s 100 texts between the players, the coaches, ‘Hey, did you see Jon Allen scoop and score? Hey did you see? Constantly.’”
Windows wasn’t at Stone Bridge when Allen went to school. He actually held the same position at another local school, Chantilly High School, but he remembers what it was like to watch film in preparation for the Bulldogs’ one-man wrecking crew.
“He was playing Robinson High School and they ran an option and he tackled the dive back, threw him to the ground, chased the quarterback down [and] when the quarterback pitched the ball he tackled the pitch man on the sideline,” Windows said. “It was a remarkable play. He just dominated high school football.
“You become a huge fan when you’re not playing him.”
Occasionally, the defensive lineman even took snaps at running back when Stone Bridge found itself in a short yardage situation.
Pass-rusher or running back, the results seemed to be the same for Allen. He usually got where he wanted to go.
“[Watching his touchdown against Ole Miss,] it did remind me of that because it was kind of a rumble, it wasn’t like a fleet-footed guy,” Thompson said. “In high school, it was just like a pile of people piling down the field because they couldn’t get him on the ground.”
That’s just one of the many flashbacks Thompson has had while watching Allen make play after play this season.
“A head coach should never do it, but there were times in our games where I would just watch him and I caught myself doing the same thing watching the Alabama game,” Thompson said. “I just watch him, and I’m waiting on the next jaw-dropping moment, that’s kind of what it’s like.”
Allen left his former community with a lot of high school highlights to remember him by during his senior season, but perhaps one of his more incredible plays for Stone Bridge didn’t happen while he played defense or offense.
“In high school, they had punt where they had three guys stand in front of the punter, and he jumped over top of them and blocked the ball off the punter’s foot,” Windows said. “He literally leaped over them headfirst and took the ball off the punter’s foot. The kid literally did everything.”
Thompson couldn’t help but remember that play when he watched Allen take flight once more earlier this season. This time, instead of blocking a punt, Thompson’s former player did his best Kal-El impression while sacking Texas A&M quarterback, Trevor Knight.
Ada Allen was also impressed with her grandson’s Superman sack. She witnessed it first hand inside Bryant-Denny Stadium and has watched it online countless times since, but her response remains the same.
“I don’t know how he did that, that was astonishing, that was wonderful,” Ada said. “I don’t know how he did it.”
Jonathan’s 294-pound frame has given opposing offensive lineman problems all season long, and the sight of him flying through the air might live on in the nightmares of opposing quarterbacks just as easily as it does on the internet, but his strength isn’t something Ada is concerned with.
“Whenever I come around he’s always delighted to see me he says ‘Grandma when you coming, when you coming,’” Ada said. “And when …read more
Source:: The Crimson White Sports