Rojas Looks to Bring Energy to Final Home Game

Nov. 19, 2010

Senior punter Alonso Rojas has been pure energy during his three years at KU.

Rojas, a 6-foot-3, 223-pound senior from Miami, Fla., is one of the more fiery players on the field. As the team’s punter, he’s not afraid to take on blockers twice his size in order to make a tackle, and is usually the first one up off the bench, waving his hands in the air to pump up the crowd before big downs.

Like 19 of his teammates, Rojas will be playing in his final home game at Memorial Stadium this afternoon as the Jayhawks celebrate Senior Day prior to their showdown with Oklahoma State. However, unlike many of his fellow seniors, Rojas’ road to Kansas wasn’t an easy one.

He transferred from Bowling Green after his freshmen year, sitting out a year before becoming the team’s punter his sophomore season in 2008.

“I kind of went about the recruiting process the wrong way,” Rojas admits.

“I felt like there was something better out there for me and sure enough, by the grace of God, I was able to end up here at Kansas. It’s been a great run, it’s almost over but I’m going to have memories here for the rest of my life and be able to bring my family, my kids back and show them where it all started. I’m just excited to finish off strong.”

Year after year, Rojas has continually become stronger as a punter. This season he has recorded at least one punt of 50-plus yards in each game including a 70-yard punt against Texas A&M and a 77-yarder against Iowa State to match his career long. His hard work and dedication to helping the team has become evident this season with each game he plays.

“A lot of punting is leg speed. Lifting weights has a lot to do with it, but the majority of it comes from hard work in the offseason and putting in time and effort, and having a better work ethic every year,” Rojas said. “The older you get, the more mature you are, so it just comes with maturity. That’s one thing that I’ve been trying to do is keep getting better and more consistent every year and just help the team out with field position to the best of my ability.”

During his career as a football player, Rojas has played for three different coaches, including Turner Gill and Mark Mangino at Kansas and Gregg Brandon at Bowling Green. However, Rojas hasn’t let that keep him from focusing on finishing his senior year strong.

“Every coach brings something different to the table,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by and finishing off my senior year with a great coach (Gill) who really cares about his players. It’s been different, a lot of people can’t say they’ve had three different coaches but between the ups and the downs, in the end you look back at your career and you see all your accomplishments that you’ve done. I’m really looking forward to be able to come back and still see my coach here and build relationships with them outside of football as well.”

After graduating in the Spring, Rojas eventually hopes to go pro.

“I feel like I have the ability and hopefully someone gives me a shot; whether I get drafted or I get a free agent tryout, anything like that,” Rojas said. “Definitely going pro would be my dream come true, but also I have to be realistic; not everyone is cut out to play football. Hopefully I’ll be lucky and be one of those but if that doesn’t work, I’ll probably work with football.”

Rojas’s dedication and love for the game will always be a part of him whether he plays in the NFL or gets a job in the football realm.

“For the rest of my life, I’m a sports guy and I want to stick with sports for as long as I can.”

Kelli Hamman is a junior from Wichita, Kan. She is majoring in sport management.