Alabama football's Christopher Allen has breakout season to lead SEC in tackles for loss
Alabama football entered 2020 with the return of an All-SEC inside linebacker from 2018 and a freshman who started all of 2019 in his place. It also returned a trio of defensive linemen responsible for 12 tackles for loss among them — Christian Barmore, DJ Dale and Justin Eboigbe.
Yet eight games into the season, none is leading the team in tackles for loss. That honor belongs to outside linebacker Christopher Allen.
Allen is leading the SEC in tackles for loss with nine, after producing 4½ in 13 games last season. The exit of Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis left Alabama’s outside linebackers a void to fill. While Will Anderson Jr. has earned the attention as a freshman playing a significant number of snaps, it is Allen who has brought production to the position.
“He's came a long way, and I'm just proud to see him blow up like this this year,” UA defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis said. “Hopefully he can continue being great and we can all follow behind him and do the same thing up front.”
Allen was an Under Armour All-American in 2017 and a four-star prospect out of Southern Lab in Baton Rouge, ranked just outside the top 100 prospects in the 247Sports Composite. He mainly sat for three years while Jennings, Lewis and Rashaan Evans all played their way to the NFL.
Lewis’ brief injury issues in 2019 gave Allen some opportunity, including 1½ tackles for loss in consecutive games against Southern Miss and Ole Miss, plus one more in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan after Lewis opted out.
Allen has had more opportunity in 2020, and the numbers show it. He’s had at least one tackle behind the line of scrimmage in every game except the opener against Missouri, including two against both Ole Miss and Auburn. His four sacks rank first on the team and tied for eighth in the SEC.
Continuing his pace on Saturday against LSU would be a challenge, as the Tigers have allowed 33 tackles for loss, tied for third in the SEC. His play of late makes UA believe he can continue his pace.
“I think he's playing with a lot more confidence now,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “I think it was a guy that was a little unsure at times of exactly what was expected of him. Sometimes guys are like that. They're afraid to pull the pin and actually do what they know they're supposed to do, and I think once players mature past that and develop the confidence that, ‘This is the way I can make plays. I got to trust it. I've got to believe it. I've got to do it,’ I think we started seeing in production and I think that's definitely what's happened with Chris.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or email@example.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson