Question: What do Jonathan Allen, A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed have in common?
Answer: A lot.
Each piled up numerous accolades playing on the defensive line at Alabama, and each got selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft — Allen in the first round, Robinson and Reed in the second.
More importantly, each was coached by Bo Davis … the current defensive line coach at Texas.
There are characteristics that can be found in all three: each is big and strong enough to play in the interior of the defensive line, and each is mobile enough to get outside and play defensive end, offering the kind of position flex coaches crave. All three are durable workhorse-type players who rarely came off the field for the Crimson Tide.
And Texas defensive lineman Alfred Collins has been compared to each of the three.
Collins arrived in Austin last season as a heralded recruit, and even in a rotational role, Collins showed flashes of enormous potential, first by becoming the first Longhorn in 11 seasons to record a sack in his college debut. He played in all 10 Texas games last year, starting against Colorado in the Valero Alamo Bowl, a breakout performance in which he had five tackles and a pass breakup, and intercepted the first pass of his career. For the season, he had 18 tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, and broke up a pair of passes.
Going into sophomore season, expectations are high for Collins, ranging from a solid part of the line and potential starter to an emerging star — Athlon Sports named him a second-team All-Big 12 honoree heading into the 2021 campaign.
Junior defensive tackle Keondre Coburn sees the time Collins has spent with Davis and envisions an exceptionally bright future for his young teammate.
“We all take the time to learn from Coach Davis — that’s a great coach right there — and Coach Davis and A.C. are always talking about little things,” Coburn said. “Not just about everything … little things, like ‘my step here’ — he’s always asking questions.”
Davis’s résumé is full of time spent with players who enjoyed enormous success. In addition to Allen, Robinson and Reed at Alabama, Davis spent a year at Texas-San Antonio, during which he helped defensive end Marcus Davenport grow from a small-school star into a pass rusher so dominant that the New Orleans Saints traded up to draft him 14th overall in the 2018 Draft. During his first of two stints on the Alabama Staff, Davis helped nose guard Terrence Cody earn consensus All-America honors for the second straight season and become a finalist for the Lombardi Award, Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award.
For any coach to be effective, players have to want to be coached. That desire to improve, Coburn said, is a major reason Collins has a chance to become the star many think he can be.
“He’s always on (himself) about … if he did something wrong, even though he did good,” Coburn said. “He’s always on (himself), trying to get better and better. I like that from A.C.”