Caleb Allen was just killing time near the end of class at Walnut Grove High School when he pulled out his phone and logged into his Instagram app to check out the latest pictures and shares.
That was when he saw his favorite athlete, NFL quarterback Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, was active.
“Lamar Jackson had gone ‘live’ on Instagram and I clicked to join,” the 17-year-old junior said. “And then he accepted my request.”
Moments later, Jackson himself was staring through the screen of Caleb’s smartphone and introducing himself to the suddenly starstruck teen.
“Boom, he was there and I was like, ‘Whoa,’” Caleb said. “I didn’t know what to say. He was just like, ‘What’s up?’”
Stammering a reply, Caleb informed Jackson he was sitting in class at his high school and the superstar athlete asked for a bit of proof.
“I showed him my classroom through the phone and told everyone I was talking to Lamar Jackson,” Caleb said. “They didn’t believe me at first but once they saw him on the screen, everyone knew I was for real.”
Caleb and Jackson spoke for a bit and Caleb expressed his admiration for the quarterback, who only recently was chosen as the NFL MVP for the 2019 season, only the second player since Tom Brady to earn the honor on a unanimous vote.
“I told him he was my favorite player,” Caleb said. “I was blanking out a bit at the moment, really. I was sweating so much.”
At that point, Caleb’s teacher came by to investigate her pupil’s brush with frame and Jackson asked Caleb to let him speak with the educator.
“He asked my teacher how my grades were,” Caleb said. “She was like, ‘He could do better.’”
Jackson exhorted his young fan to do just that and said if Caleb could get his grades up, he might could attend a game in Baltimore sometime, an invitation Caleb is eager to accept.
The entire conversation lasted only three to four minutes, Caleb said, but he’s still in awe it happened at all. Since then, while he downplays his minor celebrity status as the student who spoke to Lamar Jackson, he’s spoken with his high school principal, Sean Callahan, who ribbed him a bit about his celebrity call and echoed Jackson’s call to improve his grades. His conversation was even the subject of a news report in The Baltimore Sun, the Ravens’ hometown paper.
Caleb is thrilled to have had a chance to talk with his football hero, though he said there were a few things he would have liked to happen differently.
“I wish we hadn’t gone down the grades path,” Caleb said.
But he’s working to improve those grades, nonetheless, hoping to make a trip to Baltimore to see his idol play a game this fall in the coming season.
“I’m a huge fan and it was so awesome to get a chance to talk with him like this,” Caleb said. “It was crazy.”