NEW PORT RICHEY — It has been a long time coming for former Gulf High quarterback Alton Voss.
The last time Voss was in the Pasco County area was in 2011, before leaving the state to head north to live with Jane Patterson, who helped Voss in his road to recovery from drug addiction.
At one point football seemed like something that might never return to Voss’ life. But from Michigan to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and back to Michigan, Voss has traveled a long journey and is now experiencing a college football life at Grand Valley State (Allendale, Mich.).
Voss’ recent travels have taken him back to his roots in West Pasco County, where he once sprinted past and over defenders on the natural grass turf at Des Little Stadium in New Port Richey.
Arguably one of the best football players in Buccaneers’ school history, he returned to his old stomping grounds last weekend and visited with family and friends.
Among those who caught up with Voss was former Gulf and current Ridgewood coach Jay Fulmer, who has stayed in contact with his former quarterback, and Fulmer’s son, Will.
“Growing up, Alton (Voss) was always my role model,” Will Fulmer said. “I never knew about his struggles off the field, so to me he was a hero. Seeing him was like meeting a new person. He looked happy and healthy for the first time since I met him. I’m really proud of what he has become off the field. On the field, he is the same force he always was and I’m sure he will continue to improve on the field as well.”
Voss’ stepfather, Robin Burge, said it was great to see his stepson return to the area and see family and friends and to show everyone he’s doing a lot better since the last time they may have seen him in person.
“It was absolutely great to see him again and be reunited with his mother,” Burge said. “What surprised me was how well he carries himself with people. It’s almost like he’s a totally different person sometimes. To see him, the way he greeted and took the time to talk to people, it’s just a very, very proud moment for me. I’m just so happy how he has changed his life around and he’s made me very proud.”
Only a few weeks away from the start of training camp at Grand Valley State, Voss has enjoyed his first full summer away from Argentina in three years and has aspirations of earning more playing time at tight end in his second season with the Lakers.
Last season, Voss caught one pass for 3 yards, rushed once for 18 yards and made 19 tackles, 11 of them solo. Currently listed on Grand Valley’s roster as a 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior, Voss leaves Pasco County with only positive vibes about a promising future, not just in football but in life.
“I was a little bit nervous to see everyone at first,” Voss said. “We didn’t communicate over the past three years so much at first. It’s different talking over the phone than in person. To see all my classmates, teammates and coaches, I couldn’t ask for more. To see how happy everyone was to see me, it just really made everything that much better. I’m going to continue do well and make everyone proud.”
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.