As a defensive end at Alabama, Jonathan Allen learned all about playing in the trenches. But Allen, drafted No. 17 overall Thursday by Washington, says he would be working in different trenches if it weren't for football.

"The army -- 100 percent. Or joined the Marines," Allen says. "My dad's 23 years retired from the army, my uncle is 27 years. My brother is 10 years in, so it runs in the family. ... My dad traveled to almost over half the countries in the world. My brother did five tours: two in Afghanistan, two in Korea, one in Pakistan. He met his wife in Korea actually."

Allen, the 2016 winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Chuck Bednarik Award (both for best defensive player in college football), was born in Anniston, Alabama. Within a year, father Richard's military service took the family to Pittsburgh. When Richard's next assignments sent him to South Korea and Fort Lewis, Washington, Jonathan remained with his mother in the Steel City.

The distance became an issue. His mother relocated Jonathan and brother Richard III, who is seven years older, to South Carolina without notifying Richard. She stopped communication between the boys and their father. When Jonathan was 8, Child Protective Services in South Carolina placed the brothers in foster care. While Richard fought for custody, the brothers bounced around hotels and foster homes.

Richard received custody when Jonathan was 9, and he moved the family out to Washington state. Then the next stop was Virginia, where Jonathan attended high school.

Richard and Jonathan's stepmother, Traci, raised Jonathan with aspects of military discipline. Allen could not play football unless he got straight A's. "That's why Richard III, a C student who's now an Army staff sergeant stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, never played the game formally," wrote Jon Solomon of CBS Sports in January.

This also contributed to Jonathan's decision to go to Alabama a full four years and get a degree. Allen could have been a top NFL draft pick in 2016 but risked it for another year of education.

"You should always have a backup plan," Allen says. "There's nothing to say I'm not going to walk out this door and blow my knee out. You never know. So having the backup plan makes it easier."

Allen was expected to be selected near the top of this year's draft and getting called at No. 17 was significantly lower than expected, likely due to teams worrying about shoulder issues. He is well aware of injury risks. His degree provides him with a safety net.

And maybe a path to the military.

"After football, you know, I'm not gonna rule it out and say no, but there are other opportunities I'd like to pursue," he says, when asked if he could join the military after retirement from the NFL one day. "But you just never never know what the Lord has in store for you."

What we do know is Allen is headed back to the DMV area. And if healthy, he will suit up Sept. 10 as the Redskins open the season at home versus the Eagles.

Allen spoke to ThePostGame on behalf of Braun, one of his NFL Draft week sponsors. The grooming brand helped style his goatee for Thursday night's events.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.