Where did Josh Allen go to college? How Bills QB rose from JUCO, Wyoming to the NFL

Since he got drafted in 2017, Josh Allen has risen to become one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s become skilled as both a passer and a runner and has become one of the most exciting players at any position in the NFL.

Allen struggled in his rookie year where he played in 12 games and started 11. He completed just 52.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,074 yards (172.8 yards per game), with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Even if he struggled as a passer early on, his prowess as a runner was evident as he rushed for 631 yards and eight touchdowns.

Allen’s struggles in the passing game to begin his NFL career mirrored the start to his college career. In fact, there’s very little about Allen’s journey up to now that has been easy or straight forward. From having zero Division I scholarship offers to going to junior college to then attending a middling Group of 5 school, Allen’s path has been a circuitous one.

Sporting News takes a look at the various stops along the way that molded Allen ahead of a rematch in the divisional round against the Chiefs.

Where did Josh Allen go to college?

Even if Allen’s path to the NFL isn’t wholly unique, it still hasn’t been straightforward. Allen — like Aaron Rodgers, Warren Moon and others — saw his college football journey begin at the junior college level. Originally from Firebaugh, Calif., Allen dreamed of going to Fresno State out of high school, but got zero Division I offers of any type, be they FBS or FCS.

So, Allen enrolled at Reedley College, a JUCO near Fresno, where he played in 10 games and started in six as a freshman. All told, when his time at Reedley came to a close he had completed 49 percent of his passes, but amassed 2,055 yards, 26 touchdowns and just five picks through the air to go along with 660 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

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After that, Allen claims he sent an email to every single FBS head coach, offensive and defensive coordinator and position coaches asking them to take a look at his highlights. Eventually, Allen got two FBS offers but none from Power 5 schools. The two schools interested were the MAC’s Eastern Michigan and the Mountain West’s Wyoming, where he eventually wound up.

Eastern Michigan withdrew its offer to Allen because he visited Wyoming first, but the Cowboys only even offered Allen after one of their top QB targets went to Syracuse. 

Once he got to Laramie in 2015, Allen played in two games and started one, but sustained a broken collarbone in seven spots, just 13 plays into his first game as a starter. The injury caused him to miss the entire rest of the season. He returned to the team in 2016 as the full-time starter and went on to start 25 games for the Cowboys.

He finished his Wyoming career with 5,066 yards, 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in the air to go along with 767 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, all of which he eventually parlayed into becoming the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Josh Allen stats

For whatever doubters Allen had coming out of high school and college, he’s shown he can clearly hack it at the NFL level. A Pro-Bowler and second team All-Pro last year, Allen completed 63.3 percent of his passes this season, while throwing for 4,407 yards, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

But beyond his capability as a passer, Allen was perhaps even better on the ground. He led the NFL this year in yards per carry at 6.3, thanks to 763 yards and six touchdowns, making him his team’s second leading rusher and the league’s 25th-leading rusher ahead of running backs like Miles Sanders, James Conner and Saquon Barkley.

Over the course of his four seasons in the league, Allen’s played in 61 games and started 60, with 14,114 yards, 103 touchdowns and 46 interceptions while completing 62.3 percent of his passes. He’s added another 2,325 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground.

Josh Allen contract

Like most first-round picks, Allen signed a four-year rookie deal with a team option for a fifth season. That original deal was for four years and $21.44 million, with a $23 million team option, which Buffalo ultimately picked up for next season.

In August 2021, Allen signed an extension after a 2020 season wherein he led the Bills to their first playoff victory and subsequently, a berth in the AFC title game, since 1995. He also broke Hall of Famer Jim Kelly’s franchise record for single-season touchdown passes in 2020 as well.

Heading into this season, Allen signed a six-year, $258 million extension, with $100 million in guaranteed money and $30 million in possible incentives.

Allen is the first of the five first-round quarterback selections from 2018 to sign a long-term deal.

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