While UCF’s football roster actively reflects how the Knights have embraced the transfer portal, its 6-3, 230-pound sixth-year tight end Alec Holler from Winter Park, Florida, represents the other end of the spectrum. He came to UCF as a walk-on, has observed multiple head coaching changes—and has come out the other side as a team captain and returning regular at tight end. He didn’t play high school football until his junior year and thought seriously about giving up the game his first semester on campus at UCF. But he persevered over time to earn the starting tight end job. Off the field, he married his former high school sweetheart Ashleigh Avallone in February--and he’s finishing up requirements for a master’s degree this semester. This is the first-person story of all the ups and downs for the hometown hero.
I’ve lived here all my life—Orlando, Winter Park. My dad went to Trinity Prep and so did all my siblings. There’s almost always at least one athletic team there that’s really good. The best football players that came from Trinity Prep are Eric Wilbur who was a punter at Florida (2003-06) and Will Proctor, who played quarterback at Clemson about that same time (2002-06).
My aunt, uncle and cousins all went to UCF. My mom went to Florida so I grew up in the area being both a Florida and a UCF fan. We loved sports and went to lots of UCF events. I went to games at the Citrus Bowl, with the old gold uniforms. They used to have a pavilion in one end zone and we’d get seats there and catch field-goal attempts in warmups.
Growing up athletics played a huge role in my life, back to Pop Warner football. I really thought basketball was what I was going to do. I went to a Nike basketball camp and scored a lot of points, but not a single college coach reached out to me. So I decided there was no real future there. I loved football, but with basketball going on, I didn’t play football again until halfway through my junior year. I got a lot of my hand-eye coordination from basketball.