Back Josh Allen, An All-Time SEC Great

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Josh Allen, An All-Time SEC Great

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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When Kentucky takes on Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, it will be the final college game for one of the premier defenders in SEC history.

When Kentucky takes on Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, it will be the final college game for one of the premier defenders in SEC history. With one more encore to go for the Wildcats, Josh Allen will take the field for the last time with an all-time resume. Few players in college football's best league have been more dominant. Allen will finish his career on the big stage of a top-15 matchup on New Year's Day. The spotlight will be where his legacy long remains.  

Entering the postseason, Allen's career numbers are: 216 tackles, 39 tackles for loss, 28.5 sacks and 11 forced fumbles. He, despite not playing much as a true freshman, ranks 10th in SEC history in sacks and is tied for second in forced fumbles. Allen, for point of reference, has more sacks than Jadeveon Clowney, more tackles for loss than Justin Houston and more forced fumbles Myles Garrett. All with one more game to go.  

This fall, Allen leads Kentucky in tackles, paces the entire SEC sacks and tackles for loss and is tied for first in forced fumbles. With another outing remaining, his 14 sacks are the second-highest single-season total in the league over the last decade, trailing Shane Ray by just a half-a-sack entering the Citrus Bowl. Allen, much more than just a pass-rusher, has 21-run stuffs, good for third in the conference behind only All-American defensive linemen Jachai Polite and Quinnen Williams. Used a variety of different ways, Allen is as complete of a player as there is. 

A consensus All-American, the winner of the Bednarik, Lambert and Nagurski Awards, the Lott Trophy and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Allen is one of the most decorated defenders, ever, in the SEC. The story simply starts there.

Allen's impact on the Kentucky program has been remarkable. After five wins in his first season in Lexington, a bowl victory would double that margin in his last. The Wildcats, with Allen leading the charge, have already won their most games since 1984 and would match the school's second-highest win total, reaching double digits for the third time, with an upcoming triumph in Orlando. Notably, Kentucky peaked as high as ninth in the College Football Playoff Poll and is currently 14th. 

Defensively, Allen's Wildcats have been amongst the nation's best this year. Kentucky ranks eighth nationally, allowing 16.3 points per game and has given up merely 195 total points, the fifth-lowest count in the game. Kentucky, currently, has surrendered 24 touchdowns; the season before Allen's arrival, the Wildcats allowed 23 in the month of November alone. As it stands, Kentucky ranks in the top four in the SEC in total defense alongside Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgia.

The nation's top defensive playmaker, Allen has done so much more than set the edge for the Wildcats; he has changed the culture.

NFL opportunities were very much an option for Allen a year ago, who opted, surprisingly to some, to return to Kentucky for his senior season. Correspondingly, the Wildcats ultimately hosted Georgia in a nationally-anticipated SEC East Championship Game, are within ten wins and are playing a traditional power in a high-profile New Year's Day bowl game. Allen, individually, now has a trophy case that needs its own compartments. His farewell will be a fitting one. 

In a few months, a first round draft pick likely still awaits. Diligent and dynamic, Allen's stock is only on the rise. Most mocks have him projected to be a top 10 selection, with some even predicting Allen could go in the top five overall. He, at 6'5'', 260 pounds, is the professional prototype. With Allen, the production matches his potential. Allen, as results clearly show, is a generational-type talent.   

Josh Allen came back for a season to remember; 2018 has been a season for the ages, instead.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports