FIREBAUGH, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Josh Allen is a Pro Bowl quarterback this season, who led the Buffalo Bills to their first division title, and their first playoff win, in 25 years.
On Saturday, he will try to lead them past the Baltimore Ravens and into the AFC Championship game.
“Firebaugh is truly, truly blessed to have Josh, and they know Josh is their icon guy,” says Michael Martinez, Allen’s former offensive coordinator at Firebaugh High School.
Growing up, Josh Allen was good at pretty much every sport he tried. He even excelled in the water.
“That kid was a star in everything,” smiles Bill Magnusson, Allen’s head football coach at Firebaugh High School. “He goes out there and swims and he kills everybody. I said, ‘hey, that’s an athlete.’
“After that, I said, ‘I’m gonna pay attention to that kid.'”
“I used to always send kids to go back home and draw plays up, so they could learn the game a lot more, and be into it,” said Frank Garcia, who coached Josh Allen in youth football. “With Josh, he would come back with five, six, seven, eight plays…next thing you know, those plays were being put in our playbook.”
Josh Allen entered Firebaugh High School as a skinny freshman. However, in that first year, he quickly attracted the attention of the football coaches.
“At first, you know, him saying he wanted to be a quarterback, it was like, ‘you’re kind of small,'” said Brady Jenkins, a former assistant football coach at Firebaugh High School. “And all the coaches talked about it. After watching him throw the football one day, I told the coaches, ‘hey this is gonna be your quarterback.'”
A quarterback who did not shy away from putting in the hard work to get better.
There was one time when Josh Allen outlasted an offensive lineman in the weight room: 175 pounds were on the bar!
“They did power cleans with that,” said Paul Demmers, a former assistant football coach at Firebaugh High School. “I think they got up to 85 reps without stopping, and finally the other guy quit.
“And I think Josh did ten more.”
Allen would end up being a three-sport star at Firebaugh High School, as well as a model student on campus.
“Whether it’s ASB (Associated Student Body), FFA (Future Farmers of America), he was always trying to serve the rest of the kids in a leadership capacity,” says Terry Anderson, Allen’s former principal at Firebaugh High School.
Including on the hardwood and on the diamond, where Allen could reach 90 mph on the radar gun.
But the gridiron was his main love.
In two years as the Eagles’ starting quarterback, Josh Allen threw 59 touchdown passes. He led his team to a school-record ten wins his senior year.
And he grew to 6’3″ that year, but he was still undersized; he did not have a single scholarship offer.
“It’s hard coming from a small town getting recognized, you know?” said Matt Diedrich, a former assistant football coach at Firebaugh High School. “He went the route to a JC.”
Which took him to Reedley Junior College, about an hour away from Firebaugh.
“I think the craziest thing I saw him do, it wasn’t in a game, but it was in practice. He threw a ball about 80 yards,” said Ernie Rodriguez, Josh Allen’s offensive coordinator at Reedley College. “And, you know, he’s a 17, 18-year-old kid.”
At this time, Allen was approximately 6’5,” 205 lbs. He accounted for 36 total touchdowns at Reedley College, starting only the last six games in what turned out to be his only season playing for the Tigers.
“We thought he was gonna definitely be a Division I guy,” said Rodriguez.
Surprisingly, Josh Allen’s eye-popping potential still remained hidden to most college recruiters. He ended up signing with Wyoming, one of just two schools to offer him a scholarship.
“It was like the dominos were falling in place,” added Rodriguez. “It’s almost like it was meant to be.”
Once he arrived in Laramie, Josh Allen was no longer off the radar. He led Wyoming to two straight eight-win seasons before becoming the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Three years later, the transformation from small-town kid to big-time star is complete.
“Stays healthy, keeps working like he does, and be watching him put on a gold jacket one of these days,” said Demmers.