While we’ll wait to see whether the Bills QB succeeds in the pros, there’s one fair assessment of his time in college: he wasn’t an especially good college player, no matter how you slice it.
I say this not as a personal diss, but only to note that the other tall and stout Josh Allen, the Kentucky LB, is undeniably excellent at making good college football plays.
The three-year starter earned some All-SEC honors as a junior, when he was one of 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award. After 2018’s first five weeks, he ranked No. 3 in the country in tackles for loss per game, leading a Kentucky defense that ranked No. 3 in Defensive S&P+.
They do have some stuff in common. They’re both especially big, strong athletes, and it’s likely both will be NFL Combine studs.
Wyoming’s Allen already was.
And like the Bills QB, the Kentucky linebacker didn’t draw much interest as a recruit.
The QB became an FBS starter and bowl winner despite having no Division I offers out of high school, needing junior college to impress Wyoming.
Kentucky’s Allen landed at UK as a two-star due to a bunch of relocations, on the field and off:
“He was one of five kids living in a small apartment. That house wasn’t big enough for everyone so his brother moved to Abbeville. Then, they swapped and Josh went to Alabama for three years,” [high school coach John] Fiore said. “When his older sisters went to college Josh’s senior year, his mother gave him the option to come back and he did, which was probably one of the best decisions of his life.”
It didn’t take Fiore, who has helped produce over 60 FBS and FCS players over the last eight years at Montclair, long to realize he had something special.
”He was a wide receiver there. He didn’t have any defensive film,” Fiore said. “We made him a defensive end and before the end of our first scrimmage I was telling Boston College you gotta offer this kid. I think he had three sacks and an 80-yard touchdown at wideout.”
Fast forward four years, and UK’s Allen ranked No. 22 in SB Nation’s preseason NFL Draft rankings, only boosting his stock since.
But the edge rusher has clearly improved from year to year.
Best described by Good Bull Hunting as “one of those defenders who ends up with multiple everythings per game,” Allen’s talked about how much he stepped up from his sophomore year to his junior year. And now, as a senior, the consensus is that he’s leveled up again.
Kentucky Josh Allen is one of the most improved players in the country. pic.twitter.com/JDwTQ2JMFP— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) October 3, 2018
This was the exclamation point on another standout performance by #Kentucky OLB Josh Allen (4 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 FF). His added strength and seasoning in 2018 have made a HUGE difference. pic.twitter.com/kJxhnLVhZ6— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 1, 2018
Again, not to pick on the QB Allen, but it wasn’t quite the same story there. His production fell as a junior.
The numbers like him, too.
While the stats were not at all impressed by QB Allen, they love LB Allen.
Josh Allen leads the nation's edge defenders in overall grade through 5 weekshttps://t.co/cKXAPHpSVo pic.twitter.com/rKFeQewoOy— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2018
So will we see Josh Allen sack Josh Allen soon, like those times ‘90s DB Mark Carrier faced ‘90s WR Mark Carrier?
We might see Josh Allen hurdle Josh Allen soon, for all we know about the next level. But when it comes to making plays in college, only one of these guys will be remembered as a top producer.