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  • 28 May
    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Nick Saban doesnt typically gush about individual players. Likewise, he doesnt go through the usual song and dance of giving out game balls. Singling out anyone like that, he explained, would go against the objective of focusing on playing together and everyone doing his job.Besides, picking out a star on Alabamas roster is nearly impossible. On defense alone, its a constellation of future pros who comprise the nations No. 1 scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and third-down defense. As a unit, it hasnt allowed a touchdown in more than a month, and quarterbacks have the lowest QBR against it in the country.But as a matter of human nature, someone has to be the best. And he just so happens to be a 6-foot-3, 294-pound senior defensive end with seven sacks, a team-high 13 quarterback hurries and, for an added bonus, a pair of touchdowns. Hes a finalist for the Nagurski, Bednarik and Hendricks awards, and if the Heisman Trophy wasnt slanted toward offensive skill players, hed be on everyones top list of nominees.Hes Jonathan Allen, and if you dont think hes Heisman-worthy, just ask his head coach.Thats right, the ultra-team-focused Saban has bent the rules to accommodate for Allen. Last month, after he sacked Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight in Superman-esque fashion and scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery, Saban openly vied for him to be considered for the Heisman, lamenting the fact that the award overlooks linemen. Saban called Allen a fabulous player and a great candidate.In a way, Allen is the perfect player to make his typically stoic head coach speak up. Over the course of the last four years, hes become the personification of Sabans so-called Process. He came in with all the hype of a big-time recruit and none of the self-awareness or ego. Rather, he contributed in a part-time role as a freshman and grew from there, spending time in the weight room and learning new positions.Allen could have turned pro after last season, but he stayed. He could have doubled his team-high 12 sacks easily, he thought. A financial-planning and consumer-affairs major, he estimated a $10 million difference between the second-to-third-round grade he received and the first-round spot he envisioned. It was a business decision, he said, returning to up his stock and finish his degree. Now its hard to find a flaw in his game, whether its playing inside and stuffing the run or moving outside to rush the passer.Jonathan Allen is a fantastic player for us, and even a better person and leader, Saban said. Sometimes a lot of players lose sight of how football is a developmental game, how they improve, how they can improve their value by continuing to grow and develop as players in college. Jonathan Allen is a great example of that.The son of a retired sergeant and the younger brother of an Army member stationed in Colorado, its no wonder Allen was drawn to the structure of Alabama. Discipline and attention to detail were ingrained in him from a young age, and in Saban he saw a continuation of that upbringing. While some young players buck against the strictness of the program, Allen said he loves it. After four years together, he has to stop and shake his head when he catches himself speaking like his head coach, parroting the tenets of the Process.Like Coach Saban says, If you want to have success, theres a formula, Allen said. There are very few places that are like that. If you want to be successful, this is exactly what you have to do to get there.But getting there wasnt easy. Allen arrived at Alabama a 250-pound athlete hoping to play outside linebacker before transforming into the defensive lineman he is today. And before that, he was a sophomore in a new high school, 170 pounds soaking wet, with no clue of how to get into a three-point stance.Allen was born in Anniston, Alabama, and lived in Seattle, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and Maryland before landing at Stone Bridge High in Virginia. There, under coach Mickey Thompson, Allen had dreams of scoring touchdowns on offense. Only he had bricks for hands. During one of his first practices, Thompson remembers Allen turning to catch the football and whiffing completely, letting the ball sail between his hands before drilling him in the face mask.You know, this might not be the position for him, Thompson thought at the time.He was good, but he wasnt great like he is now. He would have had to wait his turn for a while if he had played that position. So we started trying him in a three-point stance and trying to get him on the edge a little bit ... and it grew from there.Allen was undersized, but he more than made up for it with his speed. Coaches tried to teach him which gap was which, but it didnt work because even when he was out of position, hed spin out and make the tackle anyway. In his first couple of games, Thompson remembered Allen having seven or eight sacks. By the time his sophomore season ended, he had roughly 25.It became like folklore, Thompson said. What are we going to do with this guy? How are we going to block him? Everybody in their heads said, Were going to run away from him. But that was a mistake because he was going to run you down.You cant have somebody totally take over a game on defensive line. Thats unheard of. And that happened a lot.Before long, colleges began taking notice. Allen felt spurned by nearby Virginia Tech, which he said initially viewed him as undersized, but not everyone saw it that way. Then-Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was a fixture at Stone Bridge, spending hours with Allen to develop a relationship. But then, Thompson said, Alabama rolled in, and it was pretty much over.Saban can be intimidating to some people, Thompson explained. Its no-nonsense. To some people who are more off-the-wall or fun-loving, its a little intimidating. For him, I think he likes it. Hes serious about his craft, and he wants someone who is serious about it.Just like his choice to return for his senior season, Allen looked at signing with Alabama as a business decision. He had dreams of playing in the NFL, and Saban had the right formula, he said.Allen may look the part of the prototypical Saban robot, with the precise blend of size, speed and discipline, but beneath that helmet lies a human being. When a reporter said after Alabamas 38-0 beatdown of Michigan State last season that teams simply arent supposed to win by such large margins, Allen snapped back coldly, Alabama does. Someone added music to the video clip, and it became a viral hit.It was a small but revealing moment. It was really the first glimpse of the confident side of his personality.But the hybrid defensive end/tackle is also a self-described geek who loves nothing more than to play video games like Battlefield and NBA 2K. He built his own computer over the summer, swapping out parts to make it run at higher speeds. He chose his major, he said, because he heard so many stories of athletes going broke.Thompson, who tries to keep in touch with Allen every few weeks, is in awe of his former player. He said that people dont understand what kind of person Allen is away from the field, calling him gentle and one of the highest-character people Ive ever coached.On the field is a different story, though. There, Thompson said, he sees a lunatic with a rage that doesnt fit.You have to be a tough guy, Allen said. You have to be a dog, as we say around here, to go through what we go through. You have to have that nasty, mean edge about you.When his father and brother came to Alabama last Saturday to celebrate Senior Day, Allen blocked out all emotion, refusing to think about it being the final home game of his career. Instead, he said he was focused and wanted to kill Auburn. He wound up with two tackles for loss and helped the defense go the entire month of November without allowing a touchdown.ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. currently ranks Allen as the fourth-best draft-eligible prospect. An SEC West assistant coach described him as a complete player who is disruptive and has the ability to create momentum plays. On a defense thats become known for nonoffensive touchdowns, its the nearly 300-pound lineman that ties for the team lead with two scores.I feel like were the best, Allen said, but we have to go out there and prove it every week. We have the mentality we have to go out there and suffocate and dominate the offense.Florida coach Jim McElwain joked that there have been only a couple of times where Ive become violently ill watching them on film this week.Last year, Allen had a sack during Alabamas 29-15 win over Florida in the SEC Championship Game. This time around, theres no telling what hell do.With so much left of the season, Allen said he cant let thoughts of his legacy creep into his mindset yet.Personally, we really dont focus on that, to be honest with you, he explained. I know it sounds a little boring. We just try to go with the mindset of control what we can control.Boring, huh?Sound familiar?If you listen closely, you can almost hear Saban whispering the words in his ear.As opposed to looking at what I do right, Allen said, I kind of focus at what I do wrong.Whatever his faults are is anyones guess.But one thing is certain: Hes learned well. Cheap Air Jordan 1 China Wholesale . -- Edmontons Val Sweeting is two wins away from a trip to Winnipeg to play in Canadas Road of the Rings in December. Clearance Jordans China .1 million pounds ($61.2 million) on Saturday, giving the beleaguered English Premier League champions a major lift. http://www.cheapjordanschinawholesale.com/ . Luis Suarezs double powered Liverpool to a 4-0 victory over Fulham, and Southampton easily overcame Hull 4-1 to continue the south coast clubs impressive start to the season. Liverpool and Southampton sent Chelsea down to fourth place as the west London club was held to 2-2 at home. Wholesale Jordans Online . In what the team had called a retirement, Ryan said Thursday that he is resigning as chief executive of the Rangers in a move effective at the end of this month. Cheap Air Jordan Free Shipping . But what about the officials? Every sport has officials and they also have stories about hard work and sacrifice but their accomplishments are seldom recognized by anyone outside their inner circle. ATHENS, Greece -- Europes female representative on FIFAs ruling council is determined to narrow the financial disparities between the mens and womens game, and she also wants to eradicate a stupid cliche about women in the sport.Evelina Christillin, a veteran Italian sports executive who worked on Turins 2006 Olympic bid before being a top official on the Winter Games, was elected unopposed on Wednesday by the UEFA Congress. She takes up one of six new guaranteed FIFA leadership roles for women in a drive for greater gender equality in the male-dominated sport.I think female football is a wonderful sport, Christillin said after the congress of European soccers governing body. They are wonderful athletes and so they have to be respected and possibly paid not as much as men but at least recognized, honored and praised.While FIFA gave out $576 million in prize money at the last mens World Cup in 2014, including $35 million for champion Germany, the global governing body awarded only $15 million at last years Womens World Cup, with $2 million going to the champion United States.We have to work to improve and to boost these conditions both financially and sporting (for women), Christillin said. The same prize (money) would be difficult at the very beginning but little by little I think that this can be.Asked about changing womens football, Christillin said: Its very important because I hate this stupid cliche about women looking like false men playing football.Christillin will arrive at her first FIFA Council meeting next month as an outsider, saying it will be her first visit to Zurich where the organization is based.You dont have to scream or beat your hands on the table to make yourself heard and understood, sshe said.ddddddddddddIf you show yourself capable and lets say, not with authority, but with capability and sometimes with a smile (it) is not difficult.The largesse around FIFA sits uncomfortably with Christillin.I think many things have to be changed in terms of a moral way of living, less money for the executives, more money for building facilities and restructuring the ones deserving it, she said. It has to be a little rebranded and reshaped the world of football without corruption, without money wasted, without privileges.That includes the $300,000 paid annually to FIFA Council members for the part-time role.There is no reason why earning such an amount of money for doing a representative job, Christillin said. We should be honored by having the responsibility and the task of representing sport.At the UEFA Congress, Christillin held talks with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, whose leadership style and decision-making has faced criticism in his first seven months in power.I know he had a lot of difficulties in the beginning, Christillin said. Its very difficult to change because the resistance of the predecessor is very hard to fight ... (Infantino) had problems with the press, the old guard.He is trying to diminish very much what Blatter did and the previous administration was earning or getting ... he is very convinced that so many privileges in terms of financial (costs) -- super hotels, super first-class trips and so on have to be canceled. And if this does not happen I will fight for that.---Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports ' ' '