Mandy Alonso ready to lead UVA D line
Bronco Mendenhall sensed at times in the offseason that the nine UVA football seniors who returned for an extra season might have had some doubts as to their decision.
A reporter asked defensive lineman Mandy Alonso this week if he’d had any doubts about coming back.
“There was never a doubt in my mind. Like, even on like my worst practices or worst days in winter, spring and spring ball and summer workouts, I never doubted it for a second. I just thought of it as, like, my last shot and my last season, and just like trying to attack every day. And, like, for an end goal, like, I didn’t come back just to come back and like go through the process again, like, I came back to make a difference,” said Alonso, who had a 66.8 Pro Football Focus season grade on 544 snaps in 2020.
His teammates honored his hard work through the good days and bad days of the offseason. Mendenhall has instituted a system in which his players have to earn the right to a jersey number by meeting a series of performance benchmarks, then has team leaders from among the players select their number based on their effort to meet those benchmarks.
Alonso was awarded the first pick by his teammates.
“A couple of us met as, like, a leader group to choose the order, and I actually voted to have Brennan (Armstrong) go first. But a couple of other guys voted for me. And I was just like, Alright, I’ll take the first pick, that’s cool,” Alonso said.
Defensive line coach Clint Sintim, a four-year starter at UVA from 2005-2008, praised Alonso for his mindset in the offseason and in fall camp.
“You know, those super seniors came back for a reason. And obviously Mandy, being one of those super seniors, you know, the decision to come back isn’t easy, you know, but being purposeful as far as why you’re back is huge,” Sintim said. “He has goals after playing college football, and he understands another year will help him do that, and he’s really maximizing that, not only in the film room, but on the field and really just trying to fine tune his game.
“He’s done everything up until this point to set him up to have a really good senior season, and, you know, I hope it happens for him, but I think all the pieces are in play for Mandy Alonso to have a good senior year and walk out of here on a high note,” Sintim said.
Sintim is looking to Alonso to be a leader in the D line position room.
Alonso is up for that challenge.
“If I have something on my mind, I’ll definitely speak up now,” Alonso said. “And that’s something different that I had to learn and acquire over like this offseason and this fall camp, like, in stepping into leader role.
“Coach Sintim always tells me, just like, trying to step into that leader role each and every day and let your voice be heard, and these guys will follow you and, like, whatever you say or do, like, they’ll follow you, and just keep working and keep being the leader by example, that I always come in and work hard every day, and just keep being that guy, and the guys will follow,” Alonso said.
Story by Chris Graham