‘I Already Ate’: How Nick Saban Won Over Jonathan Allen

    Former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen tells how Nick Saban won him over in the recruiting process, and how it didn’t involve the usual pep talks.

    February 28, 2017

    Former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen tells how Nick Saban won him over in the recruiting process, and how it didn’t involve the usual pep talks.


    Jonathan Allen was one of the top recruited players in the country coming out of high school in 2013. While head coaches across the country wanted him to come play for them, he realized that Alabama’s Nick Saban was different when the coach did something strange on his in-home visit with Allen: turn down Allen’s mother’s food.

    “Nick Saban turned down my mom’s food,” Allen wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “Straight up: Coach came over to our house for a recruiting visit. And my mom, knowing we were having company over, had done some home cooking. So, of course, when Coach walked in the door, my mom offered him some dinner. And wanna know what coach said to Mom? ‘I already ate.’”

    Allen describes how, instead of the pep talks and assurances of playing time that most head coaches would give, Saban went another route; one that impressed him.

    “Coach Saban hadn’t come over to put on a show, or to flatter us, or to tell us what he thought we wanted to hear. He didn’t make some big sales pitch, or promise the moon. He didn’t promise a starting spot, or SEC dominance, or national titles, or NFL riches — none of that. Truthfully, Coach didn’t promise me a thing. But what he did do was sit across from me … and answer every single one of my questions … and treat me like an adult. And that’s what I was looking for.”

    After spending four seasons with the Crimson Tide, Allen will now be a top pick in the NFL Draft and will go on to make millions playing a game he loves.

    There is one thing that will stick with him, though, and it is what Saban said after Alabama’s last-second loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship game.

    In the locker room, Saban gathered everyone up and had a simple message for his players.

    “One game doesn’t define you.”

    MORE: Alabama Football Recruiting Update

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