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Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen (93), shown here in a 2013 win over UTC, is hoping for a big junior season.

Like so many of Alabama's defenders this season, Jonathan Allen would much rather look ahead than glance behind.

The former five-star recruit from Leesburg, Va., played as a true freshman in 2013 and started 12 of 14 games last season at defensive end. Alabama ranked third in the Southeastern Conference in both scoring defense and total defense a year ago, but those rankings are subpar compared to recent Crimson Tide standards.

Alabama closed last season by yielding 97 points in its last three games.

"We're building off what we did right last year and trying to correct what we didn't do so well," Allen told reporters this week in Tuscaloosa. "We're trying to get to the ball with more intensity and effort."

The Crimson Tide held two practices Thursday, including a two-hour morning workout in full pads. The evening practice in shoulder pads and shorts was Alabama's 10th of the preseason.

Ninth-year Tide coach Nick Saban likes what he sees from Allen, a 6-foot-3, 283-pounder who tallied 33 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss for the SEC champions. The league title may not have occurred had Alabama lost at Arkansas last October, but Allen's block of an extra point ultimately proved to be the difference in the Tide's 14-13 escape.

"Jonathan Allen has been a very productive player for us," Saban said in Wednesday's news conference. "He certainly played well last year, and I think his diversity as a player as far as playing outside and rushing inside and still being strong enough to play the point inside makes him a pretty special guy for us."

Allen, who was rated the No. 11 player nationally in the 2013 class by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com, is part of a deep and talented defensive front that includes A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed as returning starters. Allen said no one member of the front is more vocal than the other and that it's about working as a unit.

And, of course, being better than last year.

"We have a lot of depth at a lot of positions," Allen said. "A lot of guys are stepping up and competing and getting after each other. I feel like we've grown a lot since the start of camp."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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