Former Battle Ground Tiger selected by Falcons; Camas kicker hoping to sign this week
A lineman who got his start in high school in Clark County was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft last week, and a kicker from Camas still has dreams of playing in the league.
Kaleb McGary, who played for Battle Ground as a freshman and sophomore before moving to Fife, was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 31st overall pick. McGary, an offensive tackle, played college football at the University of Washington.
Roldan Alcobendas, meanwhile, did not expect to be drafted. He hopes to sign as an undrafted free agent, perhaps as early as Monday.
“I’ll I can do is hope and pray at this moment,” Alcobendas said Saturday afternoon, soon after the conclusion of the NFL’s three-day, seven-round draft.
“I did get a lot of looks from multiple teams,” said Alcobendas, a record setter from Eastern Washington University. “I didn’t hear anything (from them) about being drafted. I just have to stay ready for any opportunity that comes my way.”
Kicker is not exactly a prime target for most teams in the draft. Of the 254 players selected last week, only two were kickers.
In fact, some of the best kickers in the league today, including Matt Bryant, Robbie Gould, and Justin Tucker, were undrafted. The best kicker of this generation, if not ever, Adam Vinatieri, went undrafted, as well.
Clearly, Alcobendas was one of the best kickers in college football and he was named the best in NCAA Division I FCS, and four levels below FCS when he won the coveted Fred Mitchell Award after his final season in Cheney. Alcobendas was 16 for 16 in field goals in 2018, plus he made 71 extra points for the Eagles.
“I’m still in shock to this day. When I got that phone call, I couldn’t really believe I won that award. It’s really a blessing to me,” he said.
Playing the 2018 season was a blessing, too.
Alcobendas has recovered from two serious knee injuries during his college career. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility.
“I really had to buckle down and take advantage,” he said. “Not many players get to continue (beyond the five-year window to play four seasons). I knew I had to grind twice as hard.”
Alcobendas graduated from Camas High School in 2013. He graduated from Eastern Washington with a degree in marketing and communications.
Football is his job right now, though, as he keeps his options open. The Canadian Football League is a possibility, plus there are other football leagues in the planning stages. The NFL is the goal, though. His agent told Alcobendas that he hopes an NFL team will sign him as early as this week.
Keep in mind, though, that many NFL teams have two or maybe three kickers in training camp. Only one kicker is kept for the season. Alcobendas understands the challenge ahead.
“My goal is to get signed, have a team take a chance on me,” Alcobendas said. “I’ve just got to prove, not only to myself, but to everyone who has believed in me, that I can play at the top level, which is the NFL.”
McGary will have to work, as well, but he is virtually assured a spot on the Falcons when the season kicks off in September. First-round draft choices are first round for a reason.
McGary started high school playing for the freshman team at Battle Ground in 2010. He was too good so soon though that the coaching staff moved him to varsity that season.
“I don’t think we realized first-round draft pick,” former Battle Ground coach Larry Peck said this weekend.
After all, how does anyone predict that for a freshman in high school?
“But there was no doubt, a full-ride football scholarship from a D-I school, from the moment you saw him,” Peck said.
McGary finished his freshman season as the starting right tackle.
“At a 4A school, that was pretty hard to do,” Peck said. “Starting 4A football in one of the toughest leagues in the state.”
Peck remembers meeting McGary when McGary was in the eighth grade.
“He was a giant. You knew there was something there,” Peck said. “You just don’t see kids that size.”
McGary also was a talented basketball player. So he had the combination of lineman size, plus the quickness needed for basketball. At first, McGary said he wanted to play tight end. Peck said he just had too much potential at offensive line.
“You knew someday that would be his home,” Peck said. “Someone would teach him the finer points at the college level.”
In fact, McGary would play tight end when he moved to Fife. In college, he returned to tackle.
Years later, an NFL team traded to move into that spot in order to take McGary.
He stood 6-8, 270 pounds as a sophomore. A knee injury limited his play that season. He and his family moved from Battle Ground prior to his junior year. McGary shared his story, detailing the tough times his family has endured. He called his life a “country song.”
“When his parents moved, you knew somebody was going to get a good one,” Peck said.
“We sure could have used him.”