Two significant decisions by Josh Allen dramatically altered the course of Kentucky football history.
Last year Allen decided to return to Kentucky for his senior season. That decision reshaped record books and helped put Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl. His decision to play in the Citrus Bowl could give the program its first ever bowl win in the state of Florida.
“It just says a lot about who he is and the way he cares about this place, the way he cares about his teammates,” Mark Stoops said at Friday evening’s press conference.
Before Allen made his first decision, Kentucky’s head coach shared significant input throughout the process. That was not the case before he made the decision to play in Orlando.
“I was definitely a factor a year ago in helping him make that decision, but on this one, I really didn’t want any part of that. I wanted him to truly make that decision on his own. Whatever he felt in his heart and whatever he felt was the right decision, because we just respect him that much and he’s done so much for this place.”
Stoops told him earlier this week, “Josh, I want you to know that your legacy is set here. Nobody, myself or anybody would judge you any differently if you choose not to play in this game.”
Allen slept on it last night, then told Stoops this morning, “I just felt in my heart that’s what I’m going to do.”
While many other first round draft picks opt to sit out of their final game, Allen is going against the grain. It’s not anything new to Allen. Many would have bolted for the quick buck after their junior year, but not Josh.
“It sets a great example for his decision,” Stoops said. “I was talking with a couple pro scouts today, they’re using him as a reference to other juniors across the country because, I don’t want to put a dollar figure on it, but it’s absolutely significant the difference between going out a year ago and coming out now. He’s a great example for a lot of players, also with the way — once he decided, he never looked back. Once he decided to do that, there wasn’t any doubt. There wasn’t any ifs or buts. He just went to work.”
And he’ll take that exact same approach leading into Kentucky’s bowl game.
“He’s going to do things the way he’s always done — put his head down and do things a hundred miles an hour, play hard, practice hard, prepare the right way. He wants to continue to improve his stock and he wants to help us win a football game.”