Josh Allen (quarterback)
Allen at 2017 Mountain West media days
|Wyoming Cowboys – No. 17|
|High school||Firebaugh (CA)|
May 21, 1996 |
|Height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Weight||240 lb (109 kg)|
|Career highlights and awards|
Allen grew up on a 3,000-acre (1,200 ha) farm near Firebaugh, California, a small town about 40 miles (64 km) west of Fresno that is about 20 miles (32 km) from the nearest freeway. His family has lived in the area since his great-grandfather, who emigrated from Sweden in 1907, settled there during the Great Depression. The farm where he was raised was established in 1975 by his paternal grandfather, who was also a longtime member of the local school board and namesake of the gymnasium of Firebaugh High School, from which Allen graduated in 2014.
Growing up as a Fresno State fan who regularly attended both games and football camps, Allen tried to draw the interest of the program's coaching staff; his father tried to sell the Bulldogs' head coach at the time, Tim DeRuyter, on him, but DeRuyter chose not to offer a scholarship. DeRuyter was not alone in this assessment; Allen received no scholarship offers from any NCAA Division I program—whether in the top-level FBS or second-tier FCS. San Diego State made him an offer to walk on, but Allen turned it down because Aztecs coach Rocky Long couldn't guarantee any playing time. In a 2017 story on Allen, ESPN journalist Mark Schlabach speculated on why Allen got so little interest out of high school:
At the time, Josh was about 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds. He hadn't attended the elite quarterback camps and wasn't a widely known prospect. His high school team didn't participate in many 7-on-7 camps because Josh and many of his teammates were busy playing baseball and other sports. He was the leading scorer on his basketball team and also pitched on the baseball team, reaching 90 mph with his fastball.
At a time when many scholarship-hungry families encourage their kids to specialize in one sport or to transfer to the school that will provide the most exposure, the Allens resisted both trends. They spurned overtures from more prominent Central Valley programs after Allen’s breakout junior season and kept him at Firebaugh, living by the family mantra that “you bloom where you’re planted.”
Not only was Allen involved in multiple sports while in high school, he also regularly worked on the family farm and at the restaurant his mother operated in Firebaugh.
Allen attended Reedley College, a junior college where one of the football assistant coaches at the time was married to Allen's cousin. Reedley's offensive coordinator at the time, Ernie Rodriguez, recalled in Eisenberg's story, "He was putting up ungodly numbers and making some incredible throws, but he was getting no love. I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t believe that nobody wanted him." Allen did not play in the team's first three games in 2014, but in the next game ran for four touchdowns after coming off the bench, and soon became the team's starter, throwing for 25 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions for the rest of the season. By then, he had grown to 6'5" and 210 pounds (1.96 m, 95 kg), and his coaches at Reedley thought that he would soon receive many FBS scholarship offers. This proved incorrect; near the end of the season, Allen sent a mass email to every head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and quarterback coach in FBS, but received interest from only a small number of schools. Only Eastern Michigan and Wyoming offered him a scholarship, and Eastern Michigan withdrew its offer when Allen visited Wyoming late in the 2014–15 junior-college signing period.
Wyoming's coaches initially visited Reedley to scout another potential transfer, but former Fresno State assistant Dave Brown, who had since become part of the inaugural staff of new Cowboys head coach Craig Bohl, was familiar with Allen, and urged offensive coordinator Brett Vigen to recruit him. While researching Allen, Vigen noticed a large number of parallels between Allen and a quarterback whom he had recruited in 2010 while serving in the same role at North Dakota State—Carson Wentz, who went on to become an starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Wentz was similar in size to Allen, and also shared Allen's small-town, multi-sport, and late-blooming background. Bohl soon warmed to Allen as a prospect, especially after the quarterback prospect his staff had initially targeted committed to Syracuse. Bohl was the only FBS head coach to visit the family farm, and while there, he told Allen's father, "We went all around the country and there's only one quarterback we want and that's your son. He's going to be the face of our program." Despite receiving an offer from Wyoming, Allen made one final pitch to Fresno State's staff, sending a pointed email to an assistant referencing the fact that the team had received a commitment from a quarterback prospect who was both shorter and lighter than Allen was when Fresno State turned him down in high school. After being rebuffed, he committed to Wyoming, enrolling there prior to the 2015 season.
In his first year at Wyoming, he played in two games and made one start. In his first career start he attempted only four passes before suffering a broken collarbone which ended his season; because the injury occurred early in the season, he qualified for a medical redshirt. Allen returned from the injury in 2016 and was Wyoming's starter.
After throwing for over 3,200 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2016, he contemplated declaring for the 2017 NFL draft, initially telling his family, girlfriend, and a few friends that he would turn pro. Shortly before the deadline to declare for the draft, Vigen called Allen's father to explain why he should stay at Wyoming an extra year; according to Eisenberg, "When Joel Allen got off the phone and entered his son’s room, he found his son riddled with anxiety about his decision." Before the draft declaration deadline, Bohl told Allen that staying in school one more year would improve his long-term NFL prospects, and Allen also sought advice from Wentz, who told him that in the NFL, he would have many league veterans depending on him to "win games and help secure their jobs." Allen ultimately remained at Wyoming.
Shortly after the completion of the 2017 NFL Draft, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter said about Allen's NFL prospects, "There was one personnel director who told me this week that you can put in the books, Josh Allen will be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next year." In December 2017, after leading the 8–5 Cowboys to a 37–14 win over Central Michigan in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Allen announced he would be entering the 2018 NFL Draft.
- Schlabach, Mark (August 16, 2017). "Meet the NFL draft darling who couldn't get a college scholarship". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- Eisenberg, Jeff (August 17, 2017). "How Wyoming's Josh Allen went from zero scholarships to the top of NFL draft boards". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
- writer, MIKE VOREL Star-Tribune staff. "California JC QB Josh Allen commits to Wyoming".
- Ryan.Holmgren@trib.com, Ryan Holmgren. "Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen reflects on injury, eyes bright future".
- "Inside the Game: Wyoming QB Josh Allen naked and famous".
- Brandon.Foster@Trib.com, Brandon Foster. "Josh Allen could be missing piece to Wyoming's offensive puzzle".
- "Associated Press News". www.apnews.com.
- Aschoff, Edward (December 22, 2017). "Wyoming QB Josh Allen says he'll skip senior year, enter 2018 draft". ESPN.com.