Back in April on night two of the NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers selected
Photo Gallery: The Best of Keenan Allen | More Photos
Anyone who watched the wide receiver in action during his rookie season saw the obvious – that Allen was a special talent. Fittingly, at the NFL Awards Show Saturday night, Keenan Allen took home an award that he richly deserved when he was named the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Year.
“It’s been a long journey thinking about where I was a year ago,” Allen said before even learning he won the award. “I was rehabbing my knee and it was pretty tough to start out that way. But I kept working hard, stayed patient, took my opportunities and kept trying to get better.”
It’s almost inconceivable to believe that 75 players were picked before the Bolts selected Allen with the 76th overall selection. The Cal product set Chargers rookie records with 1,046 yards and 71 catches, leading all NFL rookies in receptions, yards and touchdown catches (eight). The 21-year old was voted the Pepsi Next Rookie of the Week on four occasions and became the first rookie to top the 1,000-yard plateau since A.J. Green in 2011. He was also just the fifth since 2000 to do so. Furthermore, no Chargers rookie topped 100 yards in back-to-back games since Don Norton in 1960, but Allen accomplished that feat not once but twice.
Still, for all his personal accomplishments and statistics, Allen was adamant before leaving for New York that if he won the award, it would say more about the team than it would about him as an individual.
“It would mean a lot (to win) because it would show what we were able to accomplish and do as an offense,” he said. “Without Philip (Rivers) putting me in the best position and getting me the ball like he did to let me make a play, I wouldn’t be nominated. Just being nominated says a lot about the team, so winning would mean a lot.”
For more on Keenan Allen, check out some of the best video coverage of him from the 2013 season.