Stone Bridge's Allen fits in - and stands out - along the defensive line
Thursday, December 2, 2010; 10:11 PM
When Jonathan Allen enrolled at Stone Bridge last spring, he told the school's football coaches that he played defensive back. They assumed that meant the 6-foot-3, 215-pound freshman with the 4.5 speed also could play wide receiver.
Over the summer, it became apparent that Allen wasn't a natural pass catcher. So in the Bulldogs' first scrimmage, Allen found himself on the defensive line - a position he had never played. He was an anonymous sophomore in a foreign position on one of the area's top teams hoping to have any sort of impact.
"I was just trying to make a name," Allen said. It didn't take long.
On one play, Allen chased Dominion running back Deandre Reaves from behind. He eventually caught up to the West Virginia-bound senior 30 yards downfield and laid a hit so hard he broke his own chinstrap.
The soft-spoken new kid might not have been the wide receiver coaches initially hoped, but on the defensive line he looked like he could be special.
"Surprise," Coach Mickey Thompson said, smiling widely.
As No. 1 Stone Bridge (13-0) prepares to face second-ranked Osbourn (12-0) and its star quarterback, Dominique Terrell, on Saturday in the Virginia AAA Division 5 state semifinals, the sophomore who has gone from surprise to standout will be vital to the Bulldogs' efforts to return to the state final for the third time in four seasons.
Allen has proved to be among the most valuable players on one of the state's top defensive units, setting school single-season records with 17 sacks and seven forced fumbles. He is tied for second on the team with 52 first-hit tackles and is first with 32 assists. He also has two fumble recoveries, five pass knock downs and one blocked kick.
"He has the potential definitely to be the most highly-recruited player I've ever been associated with," said Thompson, who has sent numerous players to BCS programs in his 20 years of coaching at Stone Bridge and nearby Park View, including two who have gone on to the NFL. "I think at the end of the season, after we finish here, you'll see multiple, multiple offers coming out. And it's only going to grow."
It's been a quick and somewhat surprising evolution. As coaches watched Allen run routes and catch passes over the summer, something just didn't feel right.
Allen caught the passes, but he did so with his body and not his hands. His route-running didn't seem smooth.
"Down the road he may very well be a very good receiver for us," Thompson said. "But it wasn't something that came natural to him."