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Kentucky’s Josh Allen Will Be A Force To Be Reckoned With In Citrus Bowl

Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen is among the most effective and fun-to-watch linebackers in the country. In the Citrus Bowl, the senior will surely be a handful for Penn State’s offense.

In fact, he’s known to tell offensive linemen every game that they can’t block him. For the most part, he’s right.

Allen was recruited by Kentucky as a two-star prospect out of Montclair High School in New Jersey. Now, the edge rusher is projected to go No. 3 overall to the San Francisco 49ers in the 2019 NFL Draft by CBS Sports.

The New Jersey native put up some eye-opening numbers this season. Allen posted 84 total tackles, 18.5 of which were for a loss. He sacked the quarterback 14 times, ranking behind only Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson and East Carolina’s Nate Harvey in the country. Allen even forced five fumbles during his senior campaign.

“First of all, I was following [Allen] on Twitter and sending him a bunch of direct messages like, ‘Hey, you may want to save yourself for the draft,'” Penn State head coach James Franklin said. “But obviously that didn’t work.”

Franklin noted that the junior is considered the best defensive player in college football by many experts around the country, and deservingly so. Franklin pointed to Allen’s size, strength, and “twitchiness” as a linebacker. Penn State’s head coach believes all of those characteristics should make Allen quite the NFL prospect.

“In terms of what those guys are looking for next level, he kind of fits the model,” Franklin said. “This guy is 260 pounds. I think, like anything, you’re always looking for the biggest, the strongest, the most athletic guys that you can use in a variety of different ways. I think he’s a really good example of that.”

But before the draft, the offensive line will have to deal with Allen. Penn State was decent against the pass rush in 2018, allowing 25 sacks during the regular season. That total is good enough for a tie at No. 57 in FBS.

The Nittany Lions have struggled against elite pass rushes before. The offensive line allowed five of the 25 sacks it gave up all season against Michigan in Ann Arbor. Four more came against Ohio State earlier in the season. Protecting Trace McSorley and allowing Miles Sanders some room to run will surely be a priority in Orlando.

“Their front seven, overall, is good,” Sanders said when asked about the difficulties that Penn State’s offense would face on New Year’s Day. “It’s going to be a challenge, and we’re up for it.”

We’ll see if Ricky Rahne’s offense is truly up for the challenge at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day. The Nittany Lions opened as seven-point favorites against the Wildcats, but Allen will hope to prove the oddsmakers wrong.

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected].

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