Alabama runs the gauntlet in the SEC West each football season, facing some of the nation’s elite college football talent on a week-in, week-out basis. And former Crimson Tide defensive end Jonathan Allen saw the best of the best during his tenure with the team.
But one player stands above the rest in Allen’s eyes, and it is not former LSU RB Leonard Fournette, former Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott or projected No. 1 pick Myles Garrett. In fact, he’s not a player from the SEC at all.
During an interview with PFT Live on Tuesday, Allen confessed that former Clemson QB Deshaun Watson was the most mentally tough player he had encountered during his four-year college football career.
And it really, really pained him to say it. Here’s the transcription courtesy of Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith:
“Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but Deshaun Watson is probably the most mentally tough player I’ve ever played against. There’s no way around it. He’s by far the best player I’ve ever played,” Allen said. “As much as I hate to say it, he’s the real deal. When I hear reporters say he’s a mid- or late-round guy, it blows my mind. I see him as a Top 5 pick. That’s just my personal opinion about it. He’s the real deal.”
Given the outcome of Allen’s final football game, which was a crushing last-second defeat at the hands of Watson in the CFP national title game in January, that had to be a particularly hard thing to say. Even if it’s true.
Watson played the Crimson Tide twice in back-to-back national title games, splitting the outcomes in two close decisions. In 2017, Watson threw for 420 yards against the intimidating Crimson Tide defense, breaking his record of 407 yards passing against Alabama in the 2016 version of the contest.
Perhaps more surprising is how Allen, who himself is considered one of the top 2 or 3 prospects for this month’s NFL Draft, made such an open endorsement for Watson as a top player on the board.
Allen also revealed that he’s still very much on the fence about attending the draft, even though he’s likely to hear his name called very, very early in the evening.
Alabama DE Jonathan Allen said on @PFT_Live that he's been invited to the draft and currently is "50-50" on whether to attend.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 4, 2017