Keenan Allen put pen to paper on Tuesday, making his four year contract extension through 2020 official.
The 24-year old has made a lot of fans throughout the city of San Diego, but perhaps his biggest supporter is located two lockers to his left at Chargers Park.
Antonio Gates has been a mentor to Allen from the moment the Bolts drafted the wide receiver in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Mere minutes after officially signing his contract, KA13 explained how he wouldn't be in this position without number 85's support, guidance and mentorship.
"He meant a lot to me from day one," Allen said. "He was obviously the go-to guy on offense when I first got here, and I would watch him. I watched him run his routes and how he perfected his craft. He taught me to be a pro. I wouldn't be here without his support off the field, too. He played a big part in me getting this contract. I don't know where I'd be without him. I try to learn as much from him on and off the field, and also learn from him by example."
Thus, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Gates couldn't hide an ear to ear grin as he beamed about how proud he was of his "little brother".
"I'm super happy for him," he said. "This is something that we've always talked about. I've been on him, and he's like a little brother to me. At one point he had doubts about playing in this league. To see him get a contract, and see him be a Charger for (an additional) four years speaks volumes not only to just him, but the other players in this locker room about what you can do when the opportunity presents itself. This is a guy who was number four at one point on the depth chart and had doubts about being in this league. He finally got his opportunity when Malcom (Floyd) went down, and then he just skyrocketed. He went from fourth to being our number one guy in a matter of a year, and obviously he is our number one guy at this point. It shows what you can do when you take the time and take advantage of the opportunity that is given (to) you."
Gates' sentiment is shared throughout the entire locker room. In fact, Head Coach Mike McCoy spoke to the entire team this morning about how Allen represents what it means to be a San Diego Charger.
"I talked to the players today about Keenan, and I think it's a great example of a young player (growing)," he said. "When he first got here a couple years back, he was young, making some mistakes not always knowing what to do. I talked to him about it right before I talked to the team this morning. Then he figured it out…. He's really changed the way he approaches the game and he's become a pro. He's learned from some good guys. I think having someone like Malcom to watch every day and say this is the right way to do things, Keenan's taken advantage of that. He deserves every penny he's got. I'm very happy for him and his success."