Josh Allen is one of the most marketable players in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills quarterback graces the cover of the infamous Madden football game while injecting life into an organization that needed it desperately.
Before Allen became famous in New York, he was a flame-throwing fireballer from Firebaugh, California, overlooked by college football’s major programs. Allen made a name for himself in some of the least likely programs, proving that NFL front offices and evaluators will find talent anywhere.
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Josh Allen’s College Football Career
Allen grew up a Fresno State Bulldogs fan and pined to attend the university. The Allen family regularly attended Bulldogs’ football and basketball games, but Fresno State showed no interest in the high school QB.
The future All-Pro’s father made an overture to then Bulldogs’ head coach Tim DeRuyter, but the coaching staff didn’t see anything in Allen.
The Bulldogs were not the only team that perceived the future NFL franchise QB this way. Believe it or not, the future Pro Bowler could not get a look from any Division I or D2 programs, leaving Allen without one scholarship offer.
To be fair to the collegiate talent evaluators, the future leader of the Bills’ organization was not the player in high school that he is now. Allen is known as one of the sturdiest quarterbacks in the NFL, able to withstand constant pressure and physicality. However, these attributes were not always present. In fact, Allen was once rather scrawny.
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The future first-round pick was 6’3″ but only 180 pounds, coming out of high school. The three-sport athlete had bulking up to do at the next level. The gridiron star was also a baseball pitcher who could bring 90 MPH heat while leading his high school team in scoring. His athleticism was never in doubt.
Allen never attended elite camps, and his high school didn’t participate in 7-on-7 tournaments, so his exposure was under the radar. The lack of exposure, mixed with the lack of physical traits, allowed Allen to fall through the recruiting cracks.
The future Bills starting QB began his collegiate career at Reedley Junior College. Allen wasn’t even the starter to begin his only season at Reedley, but he earned the starting gig in the fourth game and never looked back.
Reedley’s coaching staff knew what they had and expected a tidal wave of Division I interest that never came. The only schools that would entertain offering Allen a scholarship were Eastern Michigan and Wyoming. Eastern Michigan even withdrew their initial scholarship offer when they heard the future Bills’ signal-caller had taken a visit.
Wyoming liked Allen and compared him to future NFL starting QB Carson Wentz. During Allen’s junior season, he took off like wildfire, throwing for 3,200 yards and 28 touchdown passes. The NFL took notice, and talent evaluators were intrigued by his tremendous arm strength but recognized he needed development.
Allen returned for his senior season, even though many onlookers believed he was ready for the league. He had a disastrous senior season with 1,800 yards and 16 touchdown passes.
Despite the down year, several draft evaluators — namely Mel Kiper Jr. — had Allen ranked as the No. 1 QB in his class. Buffalo was not scared of Allen’s up-and-down college performance and moved up to select him in the NFL Draft. The rest, as they say, is history.
When Was Allen Drafted?
The Bills were in the market for a new franchise signal-caller and had their eyes on Allen. Buffalo knew it was unlikely Allen would slide to their selection at 12th overall, so they made a bold move — with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — to move up to No. 7 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.