John Allen is regarded as one of the best Kentucky Football players ever. He played as an outside linebacker for the Wildcats from 2015 to 2018, where he earned unanimous All-American honors, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Lott Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Jack Lambert Trophy, and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award. He was also selected seventh overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2019 NFL Draft, where he has continued to excel as a professional player.
Allen’s remarkable achievements result from his hard work, dedication, and perseverance. He overcame many challenges and obstacles, such as a stutter, ADHD, and being a two-star recruit out of high school. He never gave up on his dreams and always strived to improve himself and his team.
Allen was born to Kim and Robert Allen on July 13, 1997, in Cumberland County, Virginia. He has a twin brother, Isaiah, and four older sisters. He grew up playing basketball, but his uncle convinced him to try out for the high school football team. He did not play a single snap in his freshman year but soon became a star receiver in his sophomore and junior years. He returned to New Jersey for his senior year and attended Montclair High School.
At Montclair, Allen switched positions from receiver to defensive end, which affected his recruiting opportunities. He was still under the radar and only received a two-star rating from 247Sports. He initially committed to Monmouth, a Division I FCS school, but later received an offer from Kentucky. He chose to join the Wildcats, hoping to prove himself at a higher level of competition. He was among the last recruits to sign with Kentucky in the 2015 class.
Allen’s decision to join Kentucky was a turning point in his life and career. He found a home and a family in Lexington, where he was welcomed and supported by his coaches, teammates, and fans. He also found a mentor and a friend in Vince Marrow, the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator for Kentucky, who helped him adjust to college life and football. Allen credits Marrow for his success and growth as a person and a player.
Allen’s college career at Kentucky was nothing short of spectacular. He played in all 51 games in his four-year career, starting in 35 of them. He totaled 224 tackles, 41 tackles for loss, 31.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries, 11 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one blocked kick, and one interception. He ranks second in school history in sacks and tackles for loss and first in forced fumbles. He also holds the single-season records for sacks (17) and forced fumbles (5).
Allen’s breakout season came in 2017 when he recorded 65 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, and one interception. He was named second-team All-SEC by the coaches and the media and was considered a potential early-round draft pick.
However, he returned for his senior season, hoping to improve his draft stock and help his team succeed. He also wanted to finish his community and leadership development degree, which he did in December 2018.
With the rise of sports betting in Kentucky, enthusiasts frequently found themselves betting on games where Allen was a key player, banking on his consistent performances to secure their wagers. His legacy in Kentucky sports is indelible and further enhanced by the growing prominence of Kentucky sports betting options.
Allen’s senior season was one of the best in college football history. He dominated the SEC with 88 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles, and four pass breakups. He led the nation in sacks, and forced fumbles, and ranked second in tackles for loss. He helped Kentucky win 10 games for the first time since 1977, including a 27-24 victory over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, where he had three sacks and a blocked field goal.
He was unanimously named a first-team All-American and won several major awards, including the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Lott Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and the Jack Lambert Trophy. He was also named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
John Allen is a former American football player and coach who played wide receiver in the NFL for six seasons. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round of the 1996 NFL Draft out of Hofstra University. He played for the Jets from 1996 to 1999, catching 29 passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns. He also spent time with the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots but did not appear in any regular season games for them.
After playing, Allen became a coach at various levels of football. He was the head coach of the Arena Football League’s New York Dragons from 2001 to 2003, leading them to two playoff appearances. He then returned to his alma mater as the wide receivers coach from 2004 to 2007, helping develop future NFL players such as Eric Moulds and Chad Bumphis.
He also coached at the high school and junior college levels, most recently at Holmes Community College in Mississippi. He is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Mississippi Valley State University, a historically black college that produced Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.
John Allen’s story is one of extraordinary grit and unyielding dedication, transforming him into a Kentucky football legend. Overcoming personal hurdles, including a stutter and ADHD, he emerged as an exemplar of resilience and tenacity.
His time at Kentucky showcased his staggering statistics and his profound impact as a team player and leader, propelling the Wildcats to unprecedented heights. Transitioning to the NFL, Allen’s brilliance continued to shine, solidifying his status among football’s elite.
Now, as a coach at UConn, he imparts his wisdom and values to a new generation of athletes, exemplifying his enduring passion for the game and the power of mentorship.