High School Recruiting

For one prospect, the chance to walk on at UF is a ‘mind-blowing’ opportunity

Heading into the final month of his recruiting process, Westminster Christian’s Lucas Alonso wasn’t sure where his college plans were heading. While never lacking in confidence or talent, the defensive tackle wasn’t heavily recruited.

But all that changed when he received a text from Florida Gators assistant coach Brian Johnson. UF was interested in him joining the team. The caveat: Alonso would be a preferred walk-on.

The option became official on Jan. 16. A visit from Johnson and Florida head coach Dan Mullen at Alonso’s high school in Miami reaffirmed their interest. And then, on Thursday — six days before National Signing Day — Alonso made his pledge to UF.

“It was incredible,” Alonso said. “It was a lot of pressure taken off my back. ... It’s mind-blowing that I have a chance to play for a school like Florida.”

Alonso, a 6-3, 285 pound defensive tackle, finished his senior season with 25 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He helped Westminster Christian go 9-2 last season and clinch a berth in the Class 2A playoffs one year after Westminster went 4-4.

“He’s a very mature young man who has great character,” Westminster Christian coach Ed Holly said Wednesday. “He’s well-rounded and he’s grounded. From a leadership standpoint as a coach, you couldn’t ask for any more. And I know it’s cliche to say there’s a coach on the field, but Lucas really was that. He played offense, defense, special teams. He absolutely loves playing and he has great physical attributes that the Lord gave him to let him excel. He worked real hard and was able to produce on the field.”

Alonso, who plans to major in business when he gets to UF, knows the challenge ahead of him. Getting playing time at a program like UF is never a given. Being on the team as a walk-on only magnifies the uphill climb he’ll face.

But Alonso has a simple response for that: Bring it on.

“I’m ready to climb my way up there, fight for my spot and make a name for myself,” Alonso said.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.