ATLANTA -- Two of the Peach State’s top outside linebackers recently met in the backfield of the Rising Seniors Bowl game and threw down the West team’s quarterback, Brooks Barden (Cartersville, Ga./Cartersville). Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) came of the right end and Dante Sawyer (Flowery Branch, Ga./North Gwinnett) crashed the left side and both caught Barden before he could slip away. While it was clear Barden never had a chance, credit for the sack was a highly-contested debate.
“Oh, that was my sack.” Allen-Williams said. “Look, Dante and I had a little bet going on to see who would get the most sacks, so we ended up tying on them. So you know [when] there are two good ends on this field, you’re bound to have a good pass rush every now and then.”
His talent for sacks has brought the ESPN Watch List defender 17 offers to date. Programs such as USC, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida, Missouri, UCLA, Tennessee, Washington, Penn State and Boise State have offered scholarships to the junior.
“Right now I’m really hearing from South Carolina, UCLA and Florida,” Allen-Williams said. “I’m also hearing from Notre Dame and West Virginia, with the latest offers coming from West Virginia and Utah. My recruitment is really starting to pick up, but I’ve really still have South Carolina as my leader right now.”
The Gamecocks have had one of the top defenses in the nation the last two years and adding the 6-foot-3, 233-pound pass rushing specialist would help continue that trend.
“They were one of the very first on me,” Allen-Williams said. “Coach [Lorenzo] Ward had developed a very good relationship with me and my mom and I just like what Coach Ward was telling me.”
A true national recruit, Allen-Williams has the Bruins as his second choice.
“UCLA is No. 2 right now over Florida,” Allen-Williams said. “You know UCLA brought the whole staff to my school and I really enjoyed that. I really see they’re making a push on me.”
His mother, Darnisha Allen-Jackson, is a staunch supporter and helps Allen-Williams evaluate schools. He said the idea of heading to Los Angeles might not sit well with his mother, but she wants him to be happy.
“She doesn’t like it too much, but she says what’s best for me is best for me,” Allen-Williams said. “If I want to go to UCLA, she’s going to let me make that decision. She’s not going to influence my decision because if anything doesn’t work out, she doesn’t want me to say, ‘You are the reason why I went to this school.’ So she wants me to make my decision and live with my decision and she always is going to support me.”
Gainesville, Fla., is much closer by comparison.
“Florida is No. 3,” Allen-Williams said. “Florida was the first to offer me. I like Florida. I like Coach [Derek] Lewis. Coach [Will] Muschamp is supposed to be coming to my school in January. You know Florida has a great defense -- the No. 3 team in the country. I really like them.”
Another SEC program is even closer to home and Allen-Williams said he would like to hear from Georgia.
“I really like Georgia,” Allen-Williams said. “I really want them to offer me but whatever happens, happens. I have been talking to them. They’ve been bringing in a lot of good players this year -- outside linebackers -- so that’s one thing I’ve been looking at lately that’s really trying to make me fall back on Georgia. But Georgia is the home school -- the biggest school in my state -- so that’s the only reason I like Georgia. They are really deep at outside linebacker and I want to go somewhere that I know there’s a good chance I’ll get on the field my freshman year because I’m going to put in the work.”
Allen-Williams is also being looked at to play inside linebacker by some of the schools that have offered.
“I feel like I could either play inside linebacker or outside linebacker,” Allen-Williams said. “I feel like I could drop back and cover the pass or get on the line and rush. I hear safety a little bit, but no place has really asked me about it. I model my game after Alec Ogletree. That’s who I look up to. I talked to him, actually, when I went up to Georgia the last time. He just told me keep going hard and hard works beats talent every day, any day.”