From Saturday to Sunday: Alonso Rojas' Unconventional Path to the NFL
Coming out of high school at Miami’s Killian High School in 2006, Alonso Rojas was rated the #1 punter by Scout.com.
After playing just one season at Bowling Green, things didn’t pan out as Rojas expected. He took a hiatus from football for over a year while he attended Miami Dade Community College.
During his time off, he spent some time working out with players from Killian and at the University of Miami. Rojas eventually met Chris Sailer, a renowned kicking coach, through a friend.
Sailer invited Rojas to a regional camp, and eventually, a national camp in Las Vegas. Sailer ranked Rojas as one of his top punters in 2008, and he eventually landed in Lawrence at the University of Kansas.
During his three years at Kansas, Rojas booted 33 punts over 50 yards while averaging nearly 42 yards per punt. As a junior and senior, he earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. He also had at least one 50-yard punt in 11 of 12 games as a senior.
Rojas had a solid workout at Kansas’ pro day in 2011 in hopes of turning some heads at the next level. However, with the NFL lockout in full swing, he was unsure of his future in football.
“It was hard,really hard actually – being in limbo and not knowing what’s going to happen,” Rojas said. “You’re sitting there thinking ‘Do I keep training? Do I prepare myself for the real world?’”
During that lockout year, a lot of players went unnoticed. Even players that were drafted, like Miami’s Charles Clay, had difficulty transitioning into the quarrelsome NFL.
“There were no rookie camps and training camp was cut short. We really had no communication with teams whatsoever,” Rojas said.
Rojas eventually left Lawrence, Kansas with his fiancé and found a job in Florida. He was still motivated to work out and sharpen his craft, but with the duties of everyday life, he had difficulty pursuing his dream on a full-time basis.
Even after moving to Virginia in September, Rojas still had his mind on football.
“After seeing all my teammates and roommates playing, I finally said ‘It’s time to do something,’” Rojas said.
At the start of 2013, Rojas decided to move back to Miami for a few months, dedicated to achieving his goal of playing in the NFL.
Rojas signed with an agent and contacted Charlie Weiss, the current head coach at Kansas.
“I decided to reach out to Kansas to see if I could participate in pro day there. Coach Weiss was really helpful and allowed me to come back and participate,” Rojas said. “I just went out there and had a really solid workout.”
He also began working out with kicking coach Jamie Kohl, a former Iowa State standout and a kicking specialist.
With the support of his now-wife, Rojas has been able to focus most of his time on preparing himself for the next level.
“It’s been rough being away from my wife,” Rojas said. “I want to be the best husband I can be and be able to support our family and make my time down here worth it. I wouldn’t be able to do it without her.”
With the 2013 NFL draft quickly approaching, Rojas has been working relentlessly in case he gets a nod from an NFL team. He plans to contact teams in hopes of getting a workout.
“My whole life I’ve been proving people wrong,” Rojas said. “All my life I’ve heard I can’t and I just want one shot to prove that I can.”
When asked what type of player he can be for a squad that picks him up, Rojas said, “They’re going to get a heck of a player.”
Jason Clary is a correspondent for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand via phone interview.
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