Combine Interview Salvages Career

Down to his last strike, this top inside linebacker candidate blossomed into a superb all-around playmaker with a penchant for making plays behind the line of scrimmage and in coverage.

Even Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said it's dangerous ground to figure out a prospect's character based on one 15-minute interview, but character had to be on the mind of the Packers when they had a formal interview with Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso at the Scouting Combine.

Alonso was arrested for DUI in February 2010 and suspended for the season. Allowed to participate in spring drills despite the suspension, Alonso tore the ACL in his right knee. In May 2011, Alonso was arrested and charged with felony burglary, criminal mischief and criminal trespass. He accepted a plea to a lesser charge and was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service, and coach Chip Kelly handed Alonso an indefinite suspension.

Down to his last strike, Alonso salvaged his career and got his life in order.

Kelly lifted the suspension in time for Alonso to play the 2011 season, a campaign that he capped by tallying 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for losses and an interception in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin en route to being named the game's defensive MVP. As a senior, Alonso finished second on the team with 81 tackles and led the way with 14 tackles for losses and four interceptions. He also earned a degree in sociology.

"I think the fact that he's been on he straight and narrow in his social and off-the-field world, that's definitely helped his on-the-field world," defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti told The Oregonian before the Ducks' Fiesta Bowl game. "He's really grown up. He's going to play a lot of football."

Said Alonso at the Scouting Combine: "They spoke with me and said I can't do that off the field if I want to get on the field. I knew that so I had to make a change."

Alonso's kept out of trouble for about two years. That, more than anything he could tell teams like the Packers, speaks of his commitment to football and doing the right thing.

"From talking to guys who know me, been around me," Alonso said when asked how he persuades teams that he's not the person he was a few years ago. "I know it's hard to believe someone because you just met them but actions speak louder than words, and I've been trying to speak with my actions."

Alonso (6-3, 238), who will do all of his testing at Oregon's pro day on Thursday, is an attacking, athletic and aggressive linebacker. As Aliotti put it: "See the ball, get ball, eat ball. Eat the ball-carrier."

For the Packers, there is a need at inside linebacker — regardless of A.J. Hawk's contract and future. Alonso could be a target if still on the board at the end of the third round.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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