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Alonso, Kendricks Are A Rare Duo

Posted Sep 18, 2015

Growing up, neither Kiko Alonso nor Mychal Kendricks played organized football. Those days wouldn’t come until high school. Yet somehow, both managed to take the steps necessary to become successful NFL linebackers.

How? Perseverance and natural athleticism.

For Kendricks, participating in soccer and dance was key. The sports taught him to understand footwork at a young age, something that would be highly important for his future as a linebacker.  

“I used to dance hip-hop, jazz, tap. That’s all footwork and choreographed steps. I think I learned a lot about timing through that,” he explained. “I think of football as being choreographed in every aspect. Offensively and defensively, we choreograph plays and steps. I just try to tie those things I learned from soccer and dance in there.”

To this day, Kendricks believes he could have gone professional in soccer, but that wasn’t what he wanted. He quit his team in eighth grade and began his football career.

Before ever setting foot on the field in pads, Kendricks knew the NFL was his future. He saw little to no playing time that first season, but was so determined that nothing would stop him.

“I think I was so young and so naïve that I didn’t even have that thought process of realizing me not playing meant I wasn’t good,” Kendricks said. “I didn’t really put two and two together. It never really registered. If it had, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”

Alonso, on the other hand, spent most of his childhood dabbling in any and all sports he could. Early on, he developed a passion for baseball and even coached a 13- to 14-year-old team while in high school. Eventually, he determined football was his calling, but even that realization didn’t come until late in his collegiate career at Oregon.

“I was a very active kid,” Alonso said. “I played baseball, but I played everything really. I started playing football in high school, organized football that is. When I started that I began gravitating toward football and away from baseball. I guess that’s what shaped me into who I am today.”

Another common link between Alonso and his teammate is that both come from athletic families. Alonso’s brother, Carlos, plays professional baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies’ minor league system, while Kendricks' brother, Eric, is also an NFL linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings.

Now, the athleticism of Alonso and Kendricks is helping the Eagles' defense dramatically. Head coach Chip Kelly praised them both for their abilities, explaining the benefits of having them on the roster.

“One of the things about Kiko is he's a true three-down linebacker like Mychal,” Kelly said. “And the fact that when we're in our nickel right now, we can leave two linebackers on the field because of how athletic those two guys are has really been a big help for us.

“Last year, we featured a little bit more dime. This year we haven't run as much dime right now just because of what Kiko and Mychal can do. They both have the ability to run and they've both got some size to them so they're not going to get bounced around in there.”

Clearly, to be an NFL player athleticism is a necessity. However, Alonso and Kendricks are of a different breed. They’re the complete package, and Kelly is more than glad to have them on his side.

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