Bowling Green coach Dino Babers said earlier in the week that some players on offense had let go of their selfishness, all but saying it was a key to success in a lopsided 62-38 win over Massachusetts.
If unselfishness is the key to success, then Falcons defensive back Alfonso Mack will be one of the most successful human beings when his football career is over.
Mack’s collegiate career, up until this season, had consisted mostly of practicing. And practicing some more. There was little time on the football field on game days for the now-redshirt junior. And even now, since becoming a starter due to an injury to Darrell Hunter in week three against Maryland, Mack has done it all without a scholarship.
It’s nothing he’s even thought about, he said. His joy is being there for his teammates, no matter if he’s receiving a free education or if he’s paying for it.
“It’s one of those things, with me personally, I love working hard,” Mack said. “That’s what’s kept me going. It has not been easy. And I can honestly say that my faith in Jesus Christ is probably the reason why I was able to keep going. Especially when it was hard realizing I’m not playing when I’m busting my butt. It’s just like it’ll never pay off kind of a thing.
“A scholarship is not even what I think about,” he said. “It’s just how can we win?”
Mack has done everything he can to help Bowling Green to its 4-2 start. Since being inserted into the starting lineup, the 5-foot-11, 178-pounder has 18 tackles, a pass breakup, and a key interception in last week’s win against Massachusetts.
Coming into the season, Mack had played in just 14 games, mostly on special teams. Now thrown into the fire, Mack has to prove he knows what he is doing on the field, and one of his biggest supporters is Hunter.
“I learned a lot from him, just for the simple fact that he’s been through it,” Mack said. “He knows what it means to be a starter and the responsibility that it takes to want to get better every week. And he encourages me to want to get better every week. And if that’s just taking care of my body, or watching film, he encourages me in all those aspects.”
Leaning on Hunter, it’s just another example of Mack showing that he is willing to do whatever it takes to make himself better, all in order to help the team. Some players might take a different approach. Some might only worry about themselves.
But unselfishness is what is leading Mack through life, along with his faith. He’s the kind of person who thinks about others before himself, so it’s no surprise that Mack, a psychology major, is considering going on mission trips following graduation. His long-term goal is to go into marriage counseling after getting a master’s degree.
His mindset in life all goes back to not worrying about a scholarship, instead focusing on the betterment of everybody else. Yet all of his hard work and dedication could soon pay off.
“Our motto has always been that, ‘You need to do it on the field,’” Bowling Green coach Dino Babers said. “If you do it on the field, we’ll take care of you. And I think we’ve proven that throughout the years that that’s something we’ve always done.”
And if what he’s done on the field isn’t good enough, it will hardly bother the soft-spoken Mack, who is in line for big things after football.
“I’ve gotten used to not being on scholarship,” he said. “Honestly, it doesn’t really bug me at all. I still think of myself as part of the team. It’s just awesome to be able to play with my brothers. The scholarship, if it comes, it comes. If not, I’m OK with it just because I have great teammates who continue to push me to get better and we continue to grow together.
“It’s just one of those things, I know it’s not about me,” Mack added. “Especially when it comes to this team. It’s a full team effort, and that’s what I think about. What can I do to get better so that I can help the team win in any capacity? A lot of people probably look at it a lot differently, but it’s not about me one bit.”