Nick Saban did the unthinkable when trying to land Jonathan Allen — he turned down his mother’s home cooking on a recruitment visit. And that’s why Allen chose to play for Alabama.
In a letter he wrote on The Player’s Tribune shortly before the 2017 NFL Combine, Allen said it was Saban’s honesty that told him everything he needed to know to make a decision about playing for Alabama:
Because Nick Saban turned down my mom’s food. 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.”
He said thank you, but no thank you, he already ate. He hit her with the already ate. And all joking aside — Coach was incredibly polite, and I share that story purely out of love — it was a pretty telling moment for me. In this weird way, it told me everything that I needed to know about about Coach Saban’s intentions. And what I mean by that is: 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.
Allen is one of the most talented defensive linemen in the 2017 NFL Draft and he’ll likely be picked in the top-five of this year’s class overall — with some thinking he’ll go as high as No. 3 overall to the Chicago Bears.
But if he falls to the Jacksonville Jaguars a pick later and newly hired Executive VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone decide to pull the trigger on him, they know how to get on Allen’s good side right off the bat: honesty, straightforwardness, and doing away with the false flattery.
And if they’ve already had dinner, slapping the plate out of Todd Wash’s hands.