Allen, Saban go way back

Jason Allen really wanted to play for Coach Nick Saban when he was coming out of high school. Four years later, he will get his chance.

Saban recruited Allen when Allen was a star running back at Muscle Shoals High School in Alabama.

Allen was highly recruited, but most schools were looking him as an "athlete" while Saban was looking at him as a defensive back.

So why didn't Allen go to LSU if he wanted to play for Saban so badly?

"It was really hard," Allen said. "There were rumors going around that Coach Saban was going back to the NFL and I wanted him to be around for four years. He's a defensive back guru and he's the type of coach that is going to coach the defensive backs every day.

"I felt he could be one of the coaches that could make me an elite college football player. I just took a little different route going back to the University of Tennessee."

As it turned out, Allen was right. Saban wound up leaving after what was Allen's junior season at Tennessee.

Allen himself thought about ending his collegiate career after that season, but decided to return to school to show scouts he "was the best defensive player in the country and the most versatile secondary player."

After playing safety all but one game as a junior, Allen started the season at cornerback before sustaining a season-ending hip injury.

Complicating Allen's decision to turn pro or return for his senior year was the fact Allen already had graduated.

That accomplishment, Saban said, is one example of the type of guy Allen is.

"It tells you a lot about the kind of person he is, the kind of character and attitude he has," Saban said. "I like people who are driven to be successful, who are hard workers, self-starters, goal-oriented in what they want to accomplish and achieve. We certainly feel like Jason Allen kind of fits into all those categories and his history kind of bears that out when you start looking at what he has been able to accomplish, how hard he's worked academically, athletically as well as personally."

For Allen, the opportunity to finally play for Saban is one he's looking forward to.

Said Allen: "Now I'm back in a situation where I'm blessed in Miami I can see Coach Saban every day and he can develop me into an elite NFL defensive back."

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