An elated Roldan Alcobendas took to Twitter in April when the Eastern Washington kicker learned his college career wasn’t over.
“After months of waiting, I got news that I’ve been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA!” tweeted Alcobendas, whose first two years had been derailed by knee injuries and subsequent surgeries.
“I wanted to say thank you to my family, coaches, teammates and everyone who has supported me through this process. I’m excited to play another season here at EWU.”
He made the most of it.
On Monday, Alcobendas was named the winner of the 2018 Fred Mitchell Award, an honor given to the top collegiate kicker at the NCAA Division I FCS, NCAA II, NCAA III, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
He earned first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors as both a kicker and punter this season, and has broken the single season EWU record for points by a kicker (107) and shattered the career mark (308).
Alcobendas, whose Eagles (11-2) face Maine (10-3) at Roos Field on Saturday for a trip to the FCS national championship, is a perfect 15 for 15 on field goals this season. He ranks second nationally in punting average (45.3 yards).
The Camas, Washington, product will receive the trophy in February at the National Football Foundation Chicago Metro Chapter Awards Ceremony at Halas Hall.
“I give all the credit to all 11 guys,” Alcobendas said. “(Head coach Aaron) Best always says what matters is for everybody to do their job to make this operation work. I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do this without them, including Curtis Billen, who has been our snapper for the last four years. And I’ve had a few holders, but I have full trust that they are going to execute their job, just like they think I’m going to execute mine.”
Best saw Alcobendas work through knee rehabilitation, earn a business degree and take on both kicking and punting duties this season after the graduation of standout punter Jordan Dascalo.
“It’s incredible, absolutely incredible,” Best said. “He came in wounded and worked his way back on the football field. He hurt his knee again in 2014 (at Montana State) and came back again from that. The evaluative measure for a kicker is putting it between the pipes – it doesn’t matter how long or how pretty, it matters if it gets done. Roldan got it done.”
Fred Mitchell was an All-America kicker from Ohio’s Wittenberg University and 41-year sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune.
“Alcobendas checks all the boxes when it comes to fulfilling the criteria for being the 2018 Fred Mitchell Award winner,” Mitchell said. “His perseverance following a pair of devastating knee injuries has been remarkable. And his commitment to community service is what we are all about. We are proud to add him to our family of distinguished winners.”
Alcobendas is the first kicker from the Big Sky Conference to win the award, which began in 2009.
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