Kyle Allen, the 23-year-old quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, didn't have an easy journey to the NFL.
Before he replaced injured Cam Newton as the starting quarterback for the team, Allen was a hopeful college student with dreams of one day playing in the league. But unlike those who enter the draft after a stellar college season, Allen decided to attempt to turn pro after a rocky 2017 at the University of Houston where he was benched just three weeks into the season.
"For me, I was just ready to bet on myself," he said in a recent NFL press conference after leading the Panthers to their first season win against Arizona. "I thought I had the ability and I thought if given a chance... to go show in practice and go show in training camp and go show in preseason that I can play, then hopefully someone will hold onto me — and I'm glad Carolina did."
Allen says he will continue to bet on himself throughout his career to prove that he has what it takes to succeed. "I think it's ingrained in who I am," said the player, who was cut from Carolina's practice squad around this time last year. "As an undrafted quarterback in this league you've got to keep betting on yourself, because no one else is going to."
Allen's confidence is ultimately what led Panthers head coach Ron Rivera to re-sign him later last season.
"Guys, I think, that succeed as undrafted free agents are those guys that do exude confidence," Rivera told The Charlotte Observer. "I think that's one of the things that helps set [Allen] apart from guys when you watch him in practice. Just having watched him the last two training camps, you see it. He's got a lot of confidence in his own ability."
Now in his second season with the Panthers, Allen says he hopes his story of overcoming obstacles to make it in the league will inspire the next generation of athletes to bet on their talent as well. "I think it's important to talk about it not only for me, but for younger players, high school kids and college kids," he said. "I think it's important to who I am as a football player and who I am as a person. I think it's shaped me."
As Allen and the Panthers aim for another team win this Sunday against the Houston Texans, the 23-year-old says he's taking his success in the league week by week.
"Obviously, down the road I want to become an established player in this league, but I know what got me here," he says. "I understand my story and the things that I went through got me to this point today, and it's going to keep getting me where I want to go."
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