It’s September 8, 2018. It had been 31 years since Kentucky last beat Florida in a football game. As seen in recent rivalry matchups, the Cats jumped out to an early lead only for the Gators to come storming back. There was 3:41 left in the game, and Florida would attempt a two-point conversion to make it a 3-point Kentucky lead.
Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks rolls out to the right with the tight end lined up on the same side. The Florida TE pretends to block but surprises the Gators with a sneak-out route to the left side of the end zone. No one identifies him as he bursts running wide open…except for Wildcat Josh Allen.
The 6’5”, 260-pound edge-rusher for the University of Kentucky quickly switches directions and sprints to the back of the end zone to make a diving pass deflection, which results in the opponent’s incomplete pass. Florida lines up for the next play, but due to a failed two-point conversion, they are forced to score a touchdown for a chance to win the game. With 4 seconds left, Allen rushes the quarterback and forces a fumble that is returned for a touchdown to seal an all-time victory for the Cats.
These are just two examples of game-changing plays Allen had this past season, which were essentially viewed as program-changing plays. The decisive plays also showcased the immense talent of Allen and his ability to play the entire field as an edge-rusher. He has the talent that can completely change a defense and impact a team’s ability to win, just like he did at Kentucky. He helped lead the Wildcats to their first 10-win season since 1977. NFL general managers will be looking to acquire this guy with the first opportunity they get in this year’s NFL draft.
The All-American had some impressive numbers in his college career. In the three full seasons he played, he put up 220 tackles, 42 tackles for loss, and 31.5 sacks. Allen also had an interception, 8 pass deflections, 11 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. His senior season, he finished 2nd in the country in sacks with 17 and forced fumbles (5). He landed 6th in the nation in tackles for loss at 22. These numbers earned him multiple prestigious awards, such as the Bronko Nagurski Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award for Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year.
After the season, Allen showcased himself at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. He finished with a 4.63 40-yard dash, which was among the top 7 times at his position. He also had 28 reps on the bench press, which was 2nd at his position. Only one other player (Justin Hollins) was top 7 at his position in both of these drills.
Another number to consider is his high school recruit ranking. He was only a 2-star recruit and weighed in at 210 pounds. He picked up nearly 50 pounds of muscle and converted himself from a 2-star recruit who was offered scholarships by Kentucky, Kansas, Buffalo, and Hawaii into a consensus All-American who will be a top 5 draft pick.
When you think of the most impactful defensive players in the NFL, you think of names like JJ Watt, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack. Josh Allen can make a similar impact on the game as these studs. He is currently projected between the No. 3 and No. 5 spots in most mock drafts. However, if I am the Arizona Cardinals, I am absolutely taking him No. 1 and trying to create an immediate turnaround with my franchise from the defensive end.
Story by Jeremy Jones. Stats from Sports Reference.