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

For nearly eight years, Allen tried to get football people to recognize his potential. He was ignored by college coaches, overlooked by recruiting services and bullied by teammates early on in high school. Heck, he wasn’t even the best athlete in his own family. He was so far removed from the recruiting radar that it took a fortuitous series of events to land an 11th-hour scholarship to Kentucky, the only FBS school that showed serious interest. Now, with more than 50 NFL talent evaluators on his campus, Allen is in an enviable position:nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Allen is a feel-good story because of his journey. He wasn’t a coddled, high school recruit who saw college as a three-year layover on the way to NFL riches. He spent four years at Kentucky — look, an actual senior! — and established a career arc that tantalizes NFL teams. He didn’t start playing defense until his senior year at Montclair High School in New Jersey, so the belief among talent evaluators is he hasn’t reached his ceiling.2

He’s a 6-foot-5, 259-pound pass-rusher with an 81-inch wingspan, crazy production (31.5 career sacks) and impressive athleticism. His 40-yard dash time (4.63 seconds) and 10-yard split (1.61) at the combine are nearly identical to those of Chicago Bears star Khalil Mack, who posted a 4.65 40 time and 1.64 split when he came out of the University at Buffalo in 2014. Actually, there are a few parallels between Allen and Mack, a former two-star recruit who blossomed into a megastar. Some believe Allen has the ability to be Mack 2.0.

“He’s a better athlete than Mack,” says one NFC defensive coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I think Mack was stronger at this stage of his career, but I can see some similarities. [Allen’s] upside is tremendous.”

Even though he’s taking a day off, he vows to never rest. He treats that two-star designation as a scarlet letter, using it as motivation in a most public way: It appears in his Twitter and Instagram bios.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Allen has a deep respect for Mack, built on his admiration for how he proved so many people wrong along the way. Mack switched sports in high school, dropping basketball, so he got a late start and didn’t generate much football buzz in the talent-fertile state of Florida. He wound up at Buffalo, which, in a side note, offered Allen the opportunity to walk on — not even a scholarship.

The two players are represented by the same agent, Joel Segal, so they have had multiple phone conversations. Allen isn’t shy about expressing his career goal: He wants to be the next Mack, even better.