Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Delbert Alvarado of the South Florida Bulls finds confidence from faith and injured friend Maikon Bonani

USF’s Delbert Alvarado, just before losing his starting kicking job last season, has a kick blocked by UCF’s Joe Burnett.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

USF’s Delbert Alvarado, just before losing his starting kicking job last season, has a kick blocked by UCF’s Joe Burnett.

TAMPA — When Delbert Alvarado starts to think about the dual challenges he faces this fall as USF's kicker and punter, he thinks about four things instead of those two.

"There are four steps I think about every time I go out," Alvarado said Monday. "Having faith to let go of what's in the past, faith to walk into the unknown, faith to stand for what I believe in and faith to wait for my time."

The four things came from a church camp this summer, shortly after friend and teammate Maikon Bonani injured his back in a 35-foot fall while working at Busch Gardens. That pressed Alvarado into both roles for his senior year.

"I don't believe in coincidences," Alvarado said of the camp's lessons. "It fit perfectly to what I was dealing with in my life. God has put me in this position for a reason. It's my last year. I want to try to go out with a bang."

Alvarado, who graduated from Tampa's Robinson High, has been USF's punter the past two years and handled the Bulls' field goals and extra points for all of 2007 before losing his job to Bonani early last season. As Alvarado prepares to juggle both jobs again this fall, Bonani has been an inspiration and a source of constant support, though he isn't with the team as he recovers.

"It's huge. I talk to him almost every day," Alvarado said. "We've both been there for each other. We're best friends. It's a cool thing to have someone who, no matter what the situation, is always behind you, backing you. He told me, 'I may not be able to play, but you've got to promise me you're going to (go all) out.' I gave him my word. It's something I have to do."

USF's coaches have little doubt in Alvarado's leg — he holds the Big East record with a 56-yard field goal against Syracuse as a freshman, and he's the most accurate extra-point kicker in the program's history.

Counting on him for a big field goal has required a bit of faith because he has been inconsistent with his accuracy, hitting 25 of 42 career attempts. In USF's upset at Auburn in 2007, Alvarado missed four field goals (one was blocked) but still hit a tying 18-yarder with 55 seconds left to set up the Bulls' overtime victory.

"It's too early to see how he's going to handle this," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "It's up to Delbert. Delbert can kick — there's no question about it. It depends on how he handles it mentally."

The mental aspect is what special-teams coach John Hendrick is focusing on, keeping the 20-year-old positive and not letting him dwell on a missed kick or an errant punt.

"I think he's doing an admirable job," Hendrick said. "He gets a little down on himself sometimes, which bothers me severely, but we work through all those things."

That Bonani is helping Alvarado is no surprise to Hendrick, who prides himself on friendly competition among kicking specialists. Practicing pooch punts — precise kicks to be downed deep in opposing territory, where accuracy is more important than leg strength — he'll set a target like a handshield and see which kicker can get closest to the mark. Punters will line up from the 35-yard line and see how many consecutive punts they can put through the uprights. The prize may be as small as a Jolly Rancher candy, but it works.

"I try to instill a greater sense of competition, but at the same time, a family value," Hendrick said.

Alvarado is used to doing a little of everything — he regularly handles the public-address announcing at home baseball games, and he's an accomplished rapper whose work, including one song about quarterback Matt Grothe, can be heard at Raymond James Stadium before games.

He admits he hasn't had time to record anything recently — "I've got a lot going on, so that's last on my list," he said — but hopes he can hold down two jobs on the football field the length of the season.

"I've been through it before, so it's nothing new, just trying to stay focused, have fun, enjoy it and do the best I can," Alvarado said. "I feel confident. I'm kicking well. I'm excited. It's an unfortunate situation, but it's an opportunity, and my team needs me."

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.

Delbert Alvarado of the South Florida Bulls finds confidence from faith and injured friend Maikon Bonani 08/10/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 10, 2009 8:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Storm routs Cleveland

    Storm

    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Former closer Sergio Romo acquired from Dodgers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a move to help the bullpen Saturday night when they acquired RHP Sergio Romo, who had been designated for assignment last week by the Dodgers.

    Reliever Sergio Romo has 84 career saves, including 38 in 2013, but has struggled this season with the Dodgers, posting a 6.12 ERA in 25 innings before being designated for assignment.
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. backs wife's "not worth risk'' opinion on Daytona

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday defended his wife's Twitter post — and blamed himself for putting her in a position where she believed she had to speak out and upset some of his fans.

    Amy Earnhardt worries about Dale Jr.’s concussions.