ASHBURN, Va. — Richard Allen has clearly heard this line of questioning before.
"People ask if it's surreal, yes and no. No because he worked extremely hard to get here." Jonathan Allen's Dad speaks from the viewing area at training camp, "From the beginning he had goals and objectives. He worked before, during and after practice for years."
Richard and his son had long envisioned Jonathan's NFL future. When first getting serious about football, Richard asked if he wanted to have fun, or wanted to be the best. Jonathan wanted to be the best. From then, his Dad drove him to achieve his goals. A life of military service taught Richard that hard work is the only path to the highest level of success, he passed that lesson on the Jonathan.
It's a lesson that endeared the defensive lineman to Alabama coach Nick Saban, a famously obsessive worker himself. Describing Jonathan's freshman year Richard says, "after a month he called and said he could hang with the best players," realizing then that he would be a pro. After winning a litany of national and conference awards, and more importantly a national championship, Allen moved on to the NFL.
Picked 17th by Washington, Allen brought his uncompromising work ethic with him. "He's one of the most dedicated people I've ever met," says Richard, "with people like that there's always backlash. Not everyone has that same intensity, not everyone does the little things."
It's those little things that Allen hopes will lead Washington back to the defense it was two years ago, before last season's drop off.
"We're not worried about pedigree, we're not worried about potential. That's what people say who haven't done too much. As a defensive lineman our job is to go out there, stop the run with a light box and affect the quarterback, so that's what we're working toward everyday," Allen says from the podium on day 1 of training camp.
He knows from experience, as long as they keep working, they'll reach their goals.