In what became a historic University of Kentucky football season, Josh Allen seemed always to deliver when the Wildcats needed it most.
The dynamic pass rusher clinched UK’s streak-busting victory at Florida when he forced Gators’ quarterback Feleipe Franks to fumble on the game’s final play from scrimmage.
Four other times in what became only the third 10-win football season in Kentucky history, a late Allen hit on the opposing quarterback was the clinching moment in a UK victory.
After the Cats (10-3) beat Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl, Allen had set Kentucky records for quarterback sacks in a season (17) and for a career (31.5) and had collected a bevy of national defensive player of the year awards.
For those reasons, Josh Allen has been elected the 2018 Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year in a vote by media members from around the commonwealth.
Arriving in Lexington as a two-star prospect, Allen transformed himself in four years from an undersized ex-wideout into a pass-rushing force. Eschewing the NFL Draft following his junior season, Allen came back to Kentucky as a senior and produced havoc in 2018.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound product of Montclair, N.J., led the SEC in tackles for loss (21.5), quarterback sacks (17) and forced fumbles (five) and led UK in tackles (88). Not a one-trick act, Allen also broke up four passes.
Allen won the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy, all connoting the national defensive player of the year.
A consensus First-Team All-American, Allen also received the Jack Lambert Award, recognizing the nation’s top linebacker, and was chosen SEC Defensive Player of the Year by both the Associated Press and the league’s coaches.