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Tejada: Choosing football over futbol

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Tejada: Choosing football over futbol

For Razorback junior kicker Alex Tejada, success is all about focus on and off the field. The starting kicker from Springdale, Ark., began playing football in junior high after a long career of soccer. Tejada said his friends played football and got him to try out and he made the team.

After injuring his kneecap while playing soccer in high school, football opened many doors for Tejada that he never thought possible. He finished his high school career as the state record holder with 174 converted PATs at Springdale High School. Tejada knew that it was rare for guys to play at the next level especially with a scholarship.

“When I got the phone call I was really excited,” Tejada said. “I never thought I would get a scholarship to play somewhere. It was an unbelievable feeling.”

Tejada chose Arkansas over LSU, Ole Miss, Nebraska and Vanderbilt.

“Arkansas has always made me feel comfortable,” Tejada said. “I liked the people who were recruiting me and the coaching staff. I always felt like I was part of the family here.”

Starting his freshman year on scholarship, Tejada learned from the beginning to stay focused and not be distracted by the atmosphere of college football.

“The speed of the game and the intensity of the fans are some of the main differences with college ball,” Tejada said. “You just have to go out there and do your best.

“A lot of people anticipated me getting the starting job. Looking back it is crazy how I was able to handle all the expectations people had of me and how well I did that year.”

Even with the excitement of being a Razorback, Tejada knows what is expected of him on and off the field.

“You have to be a class act and that comes with the opportunity of being a Razorback and being on the field,” Tejada said.

When it comes to game time, Tejada is all about routine and if something is working for him he doesn’t want to change it.

“It could be a new pair of socks or cleats,” Tejada said of the routine. “If I have a good week of practice and a good game then I don’t want to change those things.”

Tejada also got to play in the Cotton Bowl that first year on the field.

“It was a great honor to be invited to that bowl,” Tejada recalls. “It’s a great experience to be a college football player and get to compete in a bowl game.”

Tejada said that one of his high points last season was completing an onside kick against Ole Miss giving the Razorbacks a chance to win the game.

“I can’t put into words how I felt,” Tejada said. “It was awesome to see us recover the football and give the offense a chance to recover the football and go down and score.”

Tejada also had a perfect 3-for-3 day on field goals in the 30-23 win over No. 19 Tulsa last season.

Tejada’s Hispanic ethnicity gives him a chance to be a role model to many kids in Northwest Arkansas.

“They can relate to me,” Tejada said. “Soccer is a primary sport to them and that is what I grew up playing. Being a local, I think it has played a role in the number of Hispanic kids in Springdale and Northwest Arkansas trying a new sport like football.”

Throughout his college experience, Tejada has visited elementary schools and given them words of encouragement to work hard and stay in school.

“With my Hispanic background I have a great opportunity to give back to the community.”

Even though Tejada also has a love for soccer, he knows he can not risk playing it during his free time.

“It is one of your responsibilities of being on scholarship,” Tejada said. “They are taking care of you and you have to take care of yourself. I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I might get hurt.”

Tejada’s family is very supportive of him playing football at the University of Arkansas.

“They come to every home game and they will bring friends as well,” Tejada said.

When he gets some time outside the competition arena or participating in some form of community service, you can usually find him studying. He knows he has to stay focused on school when he is not playing football so that he can graduate with a degree in exercise science. He plans on going to physical therapy school after college.

“A lot of people think there are so many tricks with balancing of football and school but it is just hard work,” Tejada said.



Sports Category : Football