Keenan Allen took the NFL by storm in 2013, earning NFL Rookie of the Year and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors from multiple organizations.
And as unfathomable as it might sound, Allen's rookie-of-the-year season almost never materialized.
Allen was drafted by the Chargers in the third round in 2013. A projected first-rounder as his college career wound down, Allen's stock fell after he suffered a knee injury late in his senior season at Cal. Over his first few months in San Diego, the coaching staff limited his reps to make sure he was fully recovered from the knee injury. Allen also found himself stacked behind the talented group of veteran wide receivers that the Chargers possessed. At one point during training camp, Allen began questioning himself and his position with the team and he considered walking away to continue his education at Cal and pursue a career in his other field of dreams: music. Thankfully though, some tough talk and motherly advice from Allen's mom, Doris, convinced the young wide receiver to hang in there and he did just that. Around the same time that Allen was agonizing over his future in the NFL, Danario Alexander went down with a knee injury and suddenly Allen found himself receiving more repetition with the offense. Then in the Chargers' second game of the season in Philadelphia, Malcom Floyd was carted off the field on the first play of the third quarter. Allen's number was called and two plays later he caught an 18-yard pass on a 3rd-and-8 play, igniting a touchdown drive that gave the Chargers a 20-10 lead and igniting a season that would end with Allen being celebrated center stage at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.
Over the final 14 weeks of the 2013 season, Allen would go on to set team rookie receiving records with 1,046 yards (also a team high) and 71 catches. He led all NFL rookies in catches, yards and touchdown catches (8). Allen topped the 1,000-yard plateau during the Bolts' regular-season finale, bettering John Jefferson's team mark of 1,001 yards from 1978, while posting the 35th 1,000-yard receiving season in team history. He also became the NFL's first 1,000-yard rookie since Cincinnati's A.J. Green in 2011, and he became just the fifth rookie since 2000 to go over the 1,000-yard mark. In Weeks 14-16 of the regular season, Allen caught five touchdown passes, the most by a Chargers wide receiver in three games since 1996. It included an impressive two-game stretch in the course of five days when Allen caught four of those touchdowns with two against the New York Giants on Dec. 8 and two more at Denver on Dec. 12. Twice in 2013, Allen racked up more than 100 yards in back-to-back games, a feat last achieved by a Chargers rookie in 1960.
Allen's outstanding play continued into the postseason as he led the team with eight catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff games. It included a six-catch, 142-yard, two-touchdown performance in the divisional playoffs at Denver, giving him four touchdown catches in his last two games against the 2013 AFC Champion Broncos who went 13-3 during the regular season. Allen posted the team's second-most yards in a playoff game during that Denver contest and he became the first Charger since Jan. 1983 (Kellen Winslow at Pittsburgh) with two touchdown catches in a game. Allen's 142 yards against the Broncos also tied for the second-most yards by a rookie in a playoff game in NFL history with Philadelphia's Keith Jackson (Dec. 31, 1998) and he became the league's first rookie since New England's Julian Edelman in Jan. 2010 with two touchdown catches in a postseason game.
Long before the 2013 NFL Draft, Allen was a player coveted by Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco. In 2011, Telesco attended Cal's game against USC at San Francisco's AT&T Park and he noted that Allen really stood out on a field that was loaded with great players. Allen in fact enjoyed one of the most prolific days of his career that evening against the Trojans, catching a career-best 13 passes for 160 yards.
Allen left school after his junior season having caught a school-record 205 passes, for 2,570 yards (third in school history) and 17 touchdowns (seventh). It included a career-high 98 catches for 1,343 yards as a sophomore in 2011. Allen's half-brother, Zach Maynard, was his quarterback all three years at Cal. Maynard had originally enrolled at Buffalo, but transferred to Cal so that he and Allen could play together. In 2011, the two combined for the longest pass play in school history when they hooked up on a 90-yard score against the Washington Huskies. One of Allen's closest friends is Cincinnati Bengals' wide receiver Marvin Jones. They became teammates at Cal after Jones hosted Allen during his recruiting visit and they built a close bond. The two still talk on a regular basis.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Third-round pick (76), April 26, 2013...signed May 13.
COLLEGE: Honorable mention All-Pac-12 as junior, third-team All-America and first-team All-Pac-12 as sophomore and second-team All-Pac-10 as frosh...2011 Bear Backers MVP Award...four-time recipient of College Football Performer of Week Award, including three times as wide receiver and once as punt returner...Pac-10 Special Teams Player of Week as freshman vs. Arizona State...played at California from 2010-12...African-American studies major.
PERSONAL: Born in Greensboro, N.C....spent freshman and sophomore seasons at Grimsley (Greensboro) High School... played alongside half-brother and quarterback, Zach Maynard...transferred to Greensboro's North Guilford High as junior and senior...USA Today All-America as senior...all-state as junior...as senior, led squad to 3A Mid-State Conference title.