Name: Mandy Alonso
School: University of Virginia
Q: What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
My goal going into my final collegiate season was to play the best football I have in my life, improve as a football player, win games, and most importantly – get drafted.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
I think I made the most out of this extra year, because when we got back to UVA that January of my fifth year, I came back extremely determined. I killed every offseason workout and every practice that winter, spring, and summer. I definitely had the NFL and winning in my mind as a motivation to return.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
I believe my coaches and teammates would say that I am the hard-working type of player that is a reliable teammate, and that I am all about pushing myself to the limits and being gritty. I’ve never been super vocal, but I practice servant leadership and lead by example, which I think many people would point out. I value actions more than words.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
When I look at film, I like to watch myself in games or practice and see all my clips. I then judge myself on what I need to work on, whether that is going harder when I’m tired, hand placement, or pad level. I then look at the o-line to see what they did and how I reacted, and what they tendencies are as well as how I can exploit them. I end with clips of NFL d-linemen. If I want to work on playing the run that day, I’ll look at clips of NFL guys playing straight run plays, and if I wanna look at pass rushing, I will look at NFL practice clips of one on ones or pass plays of NFL games.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
I think what separates me is my love for the game and what I would do to get my shot at the next level. I believe that I am just as good or better than all other prospects at my position physically, but mentally I think I can play the game faster and will be fully devoted to the game rather than my competition. I know that my passion and determination is what will carry me to this next level, rather than any superficial motivators.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
Right now I am training in Charlottesville, VA, at the University of Virginia – getting ready and prepared for when I get a phone call or hear my name called. I will be ready for it.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
I think a strong capability of mine on field is my first step, and my strength and quickness off the line. Off the field, I hold myself to a high standard, and can get along with anyone. I like to stay out of the drama.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
I am an extremely competitive person who hates to lose. I love this sport so much I would do it for free if the NFL would let me. This has been a dream of mine since before I can remember, and I am not afraid of the position I am in, because I love being an underdog. What fuels me is when people doubt me or say I won’t make it. Since middle school, when someone told me the NFL is unrealistic, it only fueled me more. I will not be stopping now, and when my name is called or my time comes to be ready for a team, I will be more than ready, no doubt.