Alford officially signs with Air Force | ParkRecord.com

Alford officially signs with Air Force

PCHS football player makes dream come true

Park City High Schools Eli Alford signs his National Letter of Intent to play football at Air Force Academy with his brothers and mother by his side on Wednesday in the PCHS lobby. From left to right are Sam, Eli, Max and Linda Alford.

Growing up, Eli Alford dedicated his life to football. The Park City High School lineman was bigger than most kids his age, and by the time he was full grown at 6 feet 1 inches tall and 275 poounds, it was clear football was in his future.

But he was also engulfed in the sport from a young age. Pretty much since the day Alford was born, his father, Aaron was coaching football at the collegiate level. From Southern Utah (1999-2000) to Western Illinois (2001) to Wyoming (2002) to Akron (2004-2006), Aaron's job had taken him all over the country before accepting a position as a running backs and defensive backs coach at the University of Utah from 2007-2010.

Looking up to his father, the younger Alford always dreamed of growing up and playing college football.

"My dad was a college football coach, so that's all I've known," Eli said. "It's what I grew into. I've always wanted to play college football. This is my craziest dream come true."

His craziest dream would be that Alford signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday afternoon, National Signing Day, to continue playing football at the Air Force Academy.

He just wishes his father would have been around to see it, too.

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In 2013, Alford's dad passed away from a sudden heart attack at the young age of 39. No one saw it coming, including a completely blindsided Alford. This incident, though tragic, motivated him to achieve his ultimate dream of playing college football.

Almost four years later, Alford finally reached his goal. While signing a letter of intent is a meaningful and emotional day for any athlete, it means much more to the Park City player, Alford said.

"It's definitely meant a lot more," Alford said. "It’s been a rough couple of years, but it’s made me become a better person in general."

So with his mother, Linda, and his two brothers, Sam and Max, by his side on Wednesday, along with a large contingent of friends, Alford signed on to be a Falcon within the confines of the PCHS lobby. Alford was overwhelmed with the support received, though the crowd was missing one important person, his father.

"It means a ton," Alford said. "These are all the kids that I've played with and have helped me become the guy I am today. It just means a ton that they all came here for this moment. It's really special to me."

Alford was pursued by a couple other schools, but in the end, it came down to Air Force and Akron, the school his father used to coach at. After having discussions with his family, Alford decided it was in his best interest to join the Air Force. He knows it will be hard work, on and off of the field, but it was an opportunity he couldn't refuse.

"There's a lot of benefits, but it's going to take a lot of work," Alford said. "It's definitely something me and my family thought about for awhile, but ultimately, I decided that that's something I want to do. I see myself being a part of the Air Force."

He also cited the coaching staff and the atmosphere on the campus as two other big reasons why he decided to become a Falcon.

Though Alford suffered through the loss of his father for nearly the last four years, he has also learned a great deal and become a better man. He'll head off to the Air Force in the early parts of summer, and while his father won't be there to send him off, Alford has plenty of support from loved ones in Park CIty.

"It feels amazing," Alford said. "This moment just came up so fast. I'm just glad all my friends and family could be here to see it."