FAYETTEVILLE — There was a moment when Kevin Alfonso was close to walking away from the game he loved.
The former Richmond Senior offensive lineman attended Catawba for his first two years of college and said he wasn’t happy. Alfonso admitted he made a mistake signing with the Indians.
“I just wasn’t feeling the program there,” Alfonso said. “Well, it was more that I didn’t think I fit in as a student there.”
Alfonso added he was nearly ready to give up the sport when he got some advice from his high school coach, Paul Hoggard.
“He told me, ‘You have to do what makes you happy,’” Alfonso said. “Football makes me happy and I didn’t want to let it go. I knew my ability and I knew I could play Division II football”
He said when he was picking a college coming out of high school, it was down to Catawba and Fayetteville State.
With the desire to continue playing football, Alfonso knew he needed a change in scenery and reached out to the coaching staff at Fayetteville State.
Alfonso talked to assistant coach David Bowser, who was the team’s recruiting coordinator, about possibly transferring to the school. He flirted with the decision as a freshman, but waited to make the move until the following year.
“He said the program would welcome me and I wouldn’t be treated like a walk-on,” Alfonso said. “He also said there could be some scholarship money for me.
“I called him up after my freshman year, but my GPA wasn’t high enough. The second semester of my sophomore year I made the decision. I called him back and told him I was coming.”
Since joining the Broncos, Alfonso has flourished. Alfonso was a first-team all-CIAA selection this year and believes he should have been one as a junior as well.
“I thought I played well. I thought I should have been all-conference last year too,” Alfonso said. “It shows all the hard work I put in paid off.”
Alfonso appeared in all 20 games with the Broncos over the last two seasons, starting 19. His collegiate highlight may have been when he caught a pass against CIAA foe Johnson C. Smith.
“Our quarterback threw it and either a linebacker and defensive back deflected it,” Alfonso said laughing. “I jumped up and caught it.”
The stat crew said Alfonso lost two yards on the play, but he begs to differ.
“I caught it at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “I thought I ran for three or four yards after that.”
Even though Fayetteville State finished its season with a 6-4 record, Alfonso will have another chance to represent the school next month. Alfonso was selected to participate in the 20th USA Football Bowl Jan. 17 to 21 in Hoover, Ala. The game will feature players from all levels of competition — NCAA FBS, FCS, Division II and III, NAIA as well as Canadian college teams.
“It is more of a festival than a game,” said Dennis Wilson, president of USA College Football. “I tell the D-II and III players this is could be their last hurrah and to enjoy it.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.