Kentucky’s Josh Allen on His Rise to SEC Star and What It’s Like Sharing a Name With the Bills QB

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In April, Josh Allen was selected with by the Buffalo Bills with the seventh pick in the NFL draft. That was Josh Allen the quarterback from Wyoming. Next year, there could be another Josh Allen selected in the first round of the draft—Josh Allen the outside linebacker from Kentucky.

The Kentucky Josh Allen finished last year with 66 tackles (10.5 for a loss), seven sacks and one interception. He was named to the Associated Press All-SEC second team and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. In January, The 6’5” junior announced that he would return for his senior year.

SI briefly chatted with Allen earlier this week for a fun conversation about the quarterback who he shares a name with and the accidental fame it has brought upon him.

Sports Illustrated: When did you realize that you weren’t the only Josh Allen football player?

Josh Allen: It wasn’t too long before last year’s SEC Media Day. Two weeks before that, I was Googling myself and he popped up. I was like, “What the heck?” and then I was running through his page. This was before he became the star that he is now. I was like ‘Dang.’ I reached out to him on Instagram and started talking to him. We became friends after that.

SI: What was that initial conversation like?

JA: It was just weird. I said to him that he was a heck of a player. Wished him all the best. We just stayed in touch on small things like that. It definitely wasn’t a ‘I’m better than you’ type of thing.

SI: How often does someone get you confused with the other Josh Allen?

JA: It’s every day, man. It would happen a lot when mock drafts were coming out. I was getting messages left and right about how I was going to become a No. 1 overall pick. People would text me and say, “Oh, you’re doing so great!” I was like, “What? I’m confused.” It happens. Then I have to tell them that it’s not me. Sorry to get your hopes up.

SI: After the draft, You must’ve picked up followers who are Buffalo Bills fans.

JA: Oh yeah. A lot of people made some comments that I had to delete. People talk crazy. It’s all fun and games though. You want to know the craziest part though? I got a DM from another Josh Allen.

SI: You’re telling me that there’s a third one?

JA: Yep. He messaged me on Twitter randomly and so I started talking to him a little bit. He plays for Miami Ohio. I was like, “Oh my god.” So I asked him, “Are you good?” as in like do you play? He told me his stats and I was like “Alright. I think you’re doing it right.” I’m not trying to get confused with too many other people.

Note: Josh Allen is a senior defensive back at Miami (OH). We might have to get in touch with him as well.

SI: Have you ever even been to the state of Wyoming? Do you share anything in common with the NFL Josh Allen?

JA: Names and we play football. We really don’t have that much in common but he’s pretty cool.

SI: Let’s get into your roots for a little bit. You started off playing wide receiver at a high school in small-town Alabama. Why?

JA: I wasn’t even trying to play football when I moved out to Alabama. I strictly wanted to play basketball. My uncle wanted to continue pushing it on me to try and go out there. I gave it a shot but actually quit two times in my first year before high school. He kept convincing me to play. I went through hell but became an all-state wide receiver. I didn’t play any defense.

SI: What was small-town Alabama like? You grew up in New Jersey. That’s quite the change.

JA: It really was but not entirely. I come from a big family where I lived with mom and sisters. It was a change to go to from a big school and meeting new people every day to a small town where I’m seeing the same people every day. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone is related to each other somehow. That was kind of weird. It was totally different being out in the woods as opposed to when I was in New Jersey and it was buildings and houses everywhere. It was a big change.

SI: You went from a two-star prospect to one of the biggest stars in the SEC. When did things really change for you? Things clicked when you got to Kentucky.

JA: In my senior year of high school, it was my first year of playing defense, I managed to get all the first-team honors like all-county, all-metro, etc. The accolades were piling up but I was still getting looked over. Eventually Monmouth offered me so I committed there but then came UK. So I ended up here and in my first year, I got on the field a few times but it was my sophomore year when I dug deep and believed that I’m better than what I was last year. I felt like I was starting to get it. By the summer of my junior year, I started thinking that it’s time to man up, get mature and do what I have to. Things started to pick up from there where I was getting all the blocks and getting all the sacks early in the season. Ever since then, I haven’t looked back.

SI: You initially committed to playing at Monmouth. Do you ever think about what life would’ve been like for you if the decommitment never happens and opens up a scholarship at Kentucky?

JA: I think about it every day. Literally, every day. It’s like ‘Dang. I was really committed to Monmouth.’ I think whether I would be the same person that I am today or what would’ve I have done. I felt like that was a real humbling experience too. I never forget where I came from. Especially with the national accolades coming. I always tell people that I was committed to Monmouth. I was looked over before UK came and it’s been great ever since.

SI: The recruiting process to land in Lexington happened so quick. What do you remember about how fast it happened?

JA: Oh man! It happened in about six hours total. My high school called me one morning and said that Kentucky was coming in. I was stunned. They visited and offered me a scholarship. I called my mom so she had to leave work to come over to the high school and talk to the coaches. This was all happening in the middle of the school day. I had to ask the principal for permission to visit and it was granted so I went home, packed my clothes and an hour later I was in the airport waiting for the plane. On my way there, I called the Monmouth coaches to give them my side of the story about how I found a better opportunity for my family and needed to decommit. They were pretty upset about it but it was the truth. Two hours after that, I realize I’m in Lexington to take an official visit. It all happened so quick.

SI: It’s worked out. Now, you hear the draft buzz. It’s impossible not to. This Josh Allen could also be a first-rounder. What do you do to control it and follow through on it for this upcoming season?

JA: I just want to show people that I can play. I still get looked upon for little things but I want to show that I can make big plays, especially when we face stiff competition in the SEC. I want to be a leader and show my teammates that I can make plays. It’s so that they can look to me as the guy. I want to make the big-time plays that win games for the Wildcats.

SI: There was a website called before this year’s draft. It took off and made Josh Allen the quarterback popular. If the website makes a second run, are you ready for the fanfare that comes with it?

JA: Someone sent me the link to that. I laughed and was looking at it for a little bit. I was just playing around but thought that I’m going to need one of mine. That would be awesome if I get something like that. If I don’t and they just kept it for Josh Allen the quarterback, then that’s O.K.

SI: Or Josh Allen from Ohio.

JA: Or Josh Allen from Ohio. It is what it is. I found it funny.

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