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Jonathan Allen Evolved From Reciever To Dominant Defensive Lineman In High School


Until Jonathan Allen developed into a hulking defensive lineman at Alabama and became the Washington Redskins' 17th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Ashburn, Va., native weighed 180 pounds and was testing out wide receiver.

After arriving at Stone Bridge High School, just a short drive away from the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., he started his freshman year taking part in offseason workouts at wide receiver and defensive back.

It wasn't until a scrimmage in his sophomore season that he tried playing defensive line, and it was a bit of a struggle. In an article, Jonathan Allen's father, Richard, remembered that day.

"When he played pee wee football, he used to make 95 percent of the tackles," Richard Allen said. "When he played junior high, he made sometimes 95 percent of the tackles. When he went to his first scrimmage playing the defensive line, he didn't really make any tackles, one or two. That first scrimmage, I didn't really think he stood out."

From that point forward, his father helped Allen develop at the position. Allen gained weight over the next several months, growing to 205 pounds, while Richard taught his son spin moves and other techniques in the living room.

Thus began his ascent to becoming the most dominant defensive players in the state.

Allen was a bit surprised to move to defensive line, and struggled to know why his head coach Mickey Thompson, put him on the defensive line in the first place, having never crouched into a three-point stance in his life.

Eventually things started to click. Allen became a premiere player for Stone Bridge, finishing his sophomore season with 87 tackles, 20 sacks and eight forced fumbles.

"He actually gave his secret away," Richard said. "Jonathan would always jump the snap count. He said most of the teams used a rudimentary snap count, so he could always anticipate it. So it's funny. He said that on a broadcast one day. And ever since then, he said every team would vary it and make it harder for him."

By the time he was an 11th-best prospect in the 2013 recruiting class, Allen weighed 245 pounds. By his senior year he was 265 pounds, ready to wreak havoc for Alabama.

Allen's selection marks the first time the Redskins have selected a defensive lineman with their first selection in a draft since 2009, when the team selected defensive-end-turned-linebacker Brian Orakpo in the first round.

Allen also became the first Alabama product selected by the Redskins in the first round since the team chose six-time Pro Bowl tackle Chris Samuels with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.

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