Two-star to potential superstar: Josh Allen wants to be next Khalil Mack


The Kentucky Wildcats’ pro day is underway in Nutter Field House, where 15 NFL hopefuls are running, jumping and short-shuttling for an army of stopwatch-wielding men who look as if they jumped off the pages of “team store” catalogs. Every team is represented as they evaluate the draft-eligible players from Kentucky’s winningest team in 40 years (10-3 overall), but the best of those players is a spectator. He’s off to the side, mingling with onlookers, chatting with scouts and doing the dad thing.

On this day, linebacker Josh Allen’s only physical activity is chasing around his 14-month-old son, Wesley, who has a deceptively quick first step. Papa Allen has decided not to perform with his teammates — he’s standing on his NFL scouting combine workout in Indianapolis — and there’s something wonderfully ironic about nfl jerseys china nike8

He came back for good, though, and, by his junior year, Allen — long and smooth — was an all-state receiver. He decided to return to Montclair for his senior year, a great idea except he fell off the recruiting map. The website 247Sports tabbed him a two-star recruit, ranking him 2,121st in the nation. Montclair coach John Fiore made him a two-way player, introducing him to defensive end. It was akin to giving Mike Trout his first baseball bat; it was natural. Allen started to do amazing things on the field, like the time against perennial power St. Joseph’s when he ran down the star running back on a sweep.

Fiore knew what he had in Allen, a diamond in the rough, but he couldn’t persuade any of the big schools to recruit him. He implored Rutgers to take a look, but the New Jersey state school wasn’t interested.

“Some people just couldn’t see the potential in him,” Fiore says. “Kentucky did, and they won big. I told Rutgers, ‘You guys are going to look foolish when he’s drafted in the first round.'”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Allen was prepared to sign with Monmouth, but one phone call led to another, which led to a life-changing decision.

It started with Jim Matsakis, the West Orange (New Jersey) High School coach. His team had faced Allen, and he, too, marveled at his untapped potential. Matsakis notified his brother, Louie, a member of the Kentucky coaching staff. Louie alerted D.J. Eliot, the outside linebackers coach. He went online and pulled up Allen’s video. He was intrigued.