Alabama picked up what will certainly be one of the most highly-touted signees of the 2013 recruiting class earlier today with the verbal commitment of Virginia Jack linebacker prospect Jonathan Allen. The direct quote from Allen on his commitment, per the Washington Post:
"I'm feeling so good that I finally committed," Allen said. "Hopefully, the process will start slowing down and I can focus on football and on my senior year ... At the end of the day I felt Alabama was the best fit for me. I'd develop more under [outside linebackers] coach Lance Thompson and the whole staff."
Allen visited Alabama over the weekend, and many had hoped the Tide would be able to secure his commitment at that point in time. Obviously that came to fruition, and for the time being he puts an end to what had been a very intense recruiting cycle that featured most of the national powerhouse programs.
As a prep prospect, Allen has been a standout for Stone Bridge High School, racking up 192 tackles and 35 sacks the past two seasons. A dominant player in the Virginia prep ranks, it comes as no surprise that he has offers from effectively every school in the country, and no one should expect opposing schools to stop recruiting him simply because he has given a verbal commitment.
Just how good is Allen? He is considered by most to be one of the top fifteen prospects nationally, and he will be no lower than the second or third best overall in the 2013 Alabama recruiting class. Only Reuben Foster and, if he ends up in crimson, Robert Nkemdiche would be considered bigger signings. Prospects of Allen's caliber are exceedingly rare, and those who do possess such a frame and requisite athleticism are the type of prospects who can be dominant players at the collegiate level and high-round draft picks in the NFL.
Simply put, Alabama has signed several high-end Jack linebacker prospects in the past four years, but Allen looks to be the most physically impressive to date. The depth chart at Jack is very deep at the moment, with Adrian Hubbard, Xzavier Dickson, and Ryan Anderson all expected to see playing time, but the odds are that a player like Allen finds a way on the field almost immediately after setting foot on campus.
Being a Virginia native, the distance will be a legitimate concern for many, but on a further glance there does not seem to be any real cause for concern. While he hails from Virginia, Allen was actually born in Anniston, Alabama and still has family within the state. Additionally, the lack of a true powerhouse program in the state of Virginia certainly helps matters, and Alabama has had success in recent years under Nick Saban recruiting the talent-fertile mid-Atlantic region. After going public with his commitment earlier today, Allen was adamant that he was done with recruiting and would not be taking any further visits, so distance concerns or not Allen seems as firm as a verbal commitment can realistically be this far from National Signing Day.
Allen becomes the fourteenth commitment of the 2013 recruiting class.
Addendum: Todd posted the junior highlights earlier, but here are some sophomore clips per YouTube: