The Story of Josh Allen: From JUCO to NFL Superstar

Nicholas Smith, Staff Writer

Paper Lion writer Nicholas Smith highlights the young career of Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen. 

Josh Allen has had a long road to reach his NFL success. Being born in Firebaugh, a small town in California with a population of just under 6,000, was just his first obstacle. Due to his town not getting a ton of attention, he had no offers out of high school, so he went the JUCO route. He reached out to 1,000 colleges all over the country; however, only 2 responded.

Josh Allen played his one JUCO season at Reedley Community College, which is just over an hour away from his childhood home. He played 10 games that season, accounting for 2715 all-purpose yards, 36 touchdowns, and only 5 turnovers. With a great season like this you’d expect him to get some recognition, but he didn’t. He sent 1,000 emails out to college football teams all around the nation in hopes of getting a scholarship as a quarterback, but only received one scholarship offer from Wyoming, which he gladly accepted. 

After being the backup in the first game of his freshman year, and the starter struggling, Josh was given the start for game 2. He was only able to attempt 6 passes before suffering a broken collarbone, ending his season. After rehabbing in the offseason, Allen knew he needed a huge year to put himself on the map. He did just that by posting 3,726 total scrimmage yards, 35 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Josh knew that only one full year of college football wasn’t enough to declare for the NFL draft, so he came back for one more season. In 2017 he started 11 regular season games, missing the last 2. He played much worse in this season than the year before, finishing the year with 2,018 total scrimmage yards, 19 total touchdowns, but only 6 interceptions. Despite missing the last two games, he came back for Wyoming’s bowl game and he dominated. The Wyoming Cowboys took on the Central Michigan Chippewas at home for the “Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.” Josh Allen started the game lights out with 3 touchdowns in the first quarter. The defense took it from there as they collected 8 total turnovers with 4 interceptions, and 4 fumble recoveries. They would go on to win the game 37-14 in an absolute dominating effort from the Wyoming Cowboys. 

The draft process for Josh Allen definitely helped raise Josh’s draft stock. At his pro day he fired off many great throws to receivers all over the field. He was thought to have the strongest arm in college football, and he proved it on this day. He made multiple 60+ yard throws, getting all the way up to 80 yards. Next up was the NFL combine. He clocked in at 6’5 237 pounds, easily the biggest QB in the draft. He made 2 attempts at the 40 yard dash, coming in at 4.76 seconds each time. Next up was the throwing portion of the combine, where he was dominant and connected on almost every pass. In an article on by Pete Prisco, he shares, “Allen came across in his interviews with the teams as a player who loves the game, understands the passing concepts and is willing to put in the work. When put on the board here, he did a nice job, according to scouts.” After his combine where he was considered “the Alpha quarterback of the group,” it was draft time. 

There were plenty of rumors of him potentially going number 1 to the Cleveland Browns, but they opted for Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. The next team that needed a quarterback were the New York Jets, who had the third overall pick. Once again there were a lot of rumors of Josh Allen going number 3 overall to the Jets, but they opted for USC QB Sam Darnold. While the next QB-needy team picked at 10, the Arizona Cardinals, another team was working behind the scenes. The Buffalo Bills made not one, but two trades to get from pick 22 to pick 7. Needing a franchise quarterback, they selected QB Josh Allen. NFL analysts were pumped up for the Bills making this pick. Will Brinson from CBS sports wrote, “Allen is easily the most upside-filled quarterback in the draft, with a cannon arm and questionable accuracy.“ While acknowledging the question marks that come with him, it was clear the upside was there. 

Entering Allen’s rookie season, the Bills did not have a good roster. Their best receivers were either not developed or out of shape. The offensive line was among the worst in the NFL, but the defense was solid. This team was really bad and it held back Josh Allen. He only played in 12 games, having to miss 4 because of an elbow injury he suffered when he got tackled in a game vs the Texans. He would make his much anticipated return in week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. All week before the matchup, then-Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey said about Josh Allen, I think [Josh] Allen is trash. I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash. And it’s gonna show too.” Josh came into this game with even more motivation than before and he performed. Josh had 160 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 24-21 win over the Jaguars, so safe to say he is not “trash.” The Bills would unfortunately go 1-3 in their next 4 games, but Josh ended the season on a high note. Josh would have his biggest game of his NFL career against the Miami Dolphins week 17. He had 224 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns, while also having 95 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns.

Going into year 2, Josh was more confident than ever. He was able to see himself have success in the NFL, and got more weapons heading into the season. He got 2 new wide receivers in Cole Beasley and John Brown, who became his best friends. He also got a new center in Mitch Morse whom he loved, and that was important considering he was the one snapping him the ball on every play. It didn’t take long for Josh Allen to develop chemistry with his new receiver John Brown, as in week 1 he had 7 receptions for 123 yards and 1 touchdown, which ended up being the game winner. The Bills would then cruise through the Giants and Bengals, starting the year 3-0. They would take on the New England Patriots in week 3, who have terrorized them for the past 20 years, dominating them in every matchup. They were both 3-0, so it was a very hyped up game. Entering the 4th quarter the Bills were only down 16-10, and had the ball, so they still had a chance of winning. That was until Josh Allen got a concussion, ruled out for the game, and they lost. After that game, Josh Allen played a little worse than he had up to that point in the year, but on Thanksgiving that all changed. Josh Allen would have a great game with over 270 scrimmage yards and 2 total touchdowns, including one of the greatest fourth down conversions ever. He fumbled the snap, but picked it up from under three 300+ lbs linemen and jumped for the first down. This play convinced Bills fans around the world that Josh was the guy. They would then go on to finish the season 10-6, and clinch the first playoff berth under Josh Allen. They were playing the Houston Texans, who had injured Josh Allen one year ago, so he wanted his revenge. He started the game with a 30+ yard run, and finished that drive with a receiving touchdown. Unfortunately, after that hot start they would lose the game in overtime, 22-19. 

Even after the big jump in year 2, Josh Allen knew there was more to be done. In the off-season, GM Brandon Beane got Josh another weapon in Stefon Diggs, who was a superstar WR. After last season, Josh still wasn’t proven to many fans and analysts around the NFL world, so it was time to change the narrative. Josh started year 3 with a bang, leading the Bills to a 4-0 record. In those 4 games Josh had accumulated 1,409 total yards, and 15 touchdowns, averaging 352 yards per game and 3.75 touchdowns per game, which is elite. Unfortunately, Josh injured his shoulder at the end of his game vs the Raiders week 4, which hindered his throwing ability for the next 2 weeks. Due to his lack of passing ability, they would lose weeks 5 and 6, because of the lackluster running game. After 2 more wins, but with mediocre play over the Jets and Patriots, Josh came back with an absolutely electric performance in week 9. Against the Seahawks week 9, Josh had 415 yards and 3 touchdowns, in a 44-34 win, and his new receiver Stefon Diggs led the team with 9 receptions and 118 yards. The following week Josh would throw a touchdown to Diggs with 32 seconds left against the Arizona Cardinals, which looked to win them the game as they took a 3 point lead. Unfortunately, one of the greatest plays, the “Hail Murray,” would happen and the Bills would lose on a last second touchdown. Josh was heartbroken, but he’s come back from worse and he was ready for the challenge. The Bills would go on to win their next 8 games, including 2 playoff games against the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens. In those 8 games the Bills offense would score 273 points, averaging 34.1 ppg. In the AFC Championship the Bills would take on the Chiefs, in Kansas City. They took a quick 9-0 lead, but that lead was decimated quickly, and they never came back, losing 38-24. 

After a full off-season of the media hyping up Josh Allen and the Bills calling them the Super Bowl favorites, the Bills looked to live up to those expectations week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bills started the game with a 76 yard kick return, which electrified the crowd. The Bills offense stalled in the red zone, but it was fine because it was the first drive of the season. Unfortunately, that would be the case for Josh the rest of the game, and they lost 23-16. Josh would bounce back from his terrible week 1 performance, and they won 4 straight games against some very good teams. Week 6, the Bills took on the Titans in what would be an instant classic, back and forth scoring and the game came down to the last drive. With 2 seconds left, the Bills were down by 3 on the 1 yard line, and it was 4th down. Josh demanded that they go for the win, so they did just that. The play was a QB sneak, where Josh would get the ball and try to “sneak” past defenders to score a touchdown, and it looked good, until he slipped. That would be the story of Josh Allen’s season, games “slipping” away from him. From week 6 until week 14, the Bills were not able to string together 2 wins in a row, and as a result were a mediocre 7-6. Fortunately for Josh, he would end the season against some of the worst defenses in the NFL, and they won all 4 to finish 11-6. Entering the wildcard weekend against the New England Patriots, all the talk was that the Patriots would expose Josh Allen and the Bills for being an overrated offense. Little did they know, Josh heard it all. Josh Allen was so dominant in this game, he at one point accidentally threw a touchdown after trying to throw it away. The Bills had the first “perfect game” in NFL history, scoring on every single possession. They had all the momentum in the world, and now it was time to take on the Chiefs once again in the playoffs. Josh had another unbelievable game thanks to receiver Gabe Davis recording 200 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Josh threw his last touchdown with 13 seconds left, and took the lead for the 3rd time in the last 5 minutes of game time. It looked like Buffalo finally conquered the Chiefs, until they scored a field goal within those last 13 seconds, and sent the game to overtime. The Chiefs won the coin toss, and then won the game after scoring a touchdown on their first overtime drive, breaking the hearts of Josh Allen and Bills fans around the world. 

Just this last year, Josh Allen had another fantastic season, resulting in taking 3rd place in the MVP voting. He started the year with a 31-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams, who had won the Super Bowl just one year prior. Then just one week later, he absolutely demolished the Tennessee Titans in a 41-7 win. Life comes at you fast though, and just one week later he underthrew a pass at the goalline, which lost them a game in Miami against a division rival. For the next 4 weeks, he cruised his way to 4 straight wins, giving them a 6-1 record. However, like I said, life comes at you fast, and when they played the New York Jets in week 10, the absolute worst case scenario happened. Not only did they lose in an embarrassing effort, Josh Allen sprained his UCL, resulting in a partial tear. He wasn’t able to get his normal throwing motions back until week 16, but he’s such a dominant player, he only lost one game in that 6 week span. Josh Allen and the offense were playing so well that they got to a 12-3 record following a win in Chicago against the Bears. Entering week 17, it looked like Josh Allen would be playing in an absolutely electric game against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that is not what ended up happening. His teammate, Damar Hamlin, would suffer cardiac arrest on the field, and would have to be brought back to life. This completely shook up not only Josh, but the rest of the team. In what was a super emotional week, it was difficult to focus on the regular season finale against the New England Patriots. But after hearing about the recovery of Damar, and good vibes from his parents, there was more energy than ever before and it was showtime. On the opening kickoff, kick returner Nyheim Hines had a 101 yard return touchdown, and the stadium started buzzing. Josh Allen had an amazing day, and picked up the win in a 35-23 effort. Now it was time for the playoffs, and they were playing the division rival Miami Dolphins. The game started off hot for Josh, but quickly cooled down after throwing 2 interceptions. They ended up pulling out the win, but it was way too close for comfort. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get away with a slow start in the divisional round, as Josh Allen’s season would end once again prematurely. 

All in all, Josh Allen has had an incredible career so far, and it should only get better. The one knock people have on him is that he hasn’t won any championships, and is falling behind his peers in that way. Josh Allen has talked about winning so much, so we will see how many championships are in his future.