Enter Louisiana cornerback Terrence Alexander into this year's mix. Alexander is no stranger to depth chart competition. He has started since sophomore year at John Curtis High, one of the top football schools in the country that boasts 25 state championships. Spring brings just as loaded of a depth chart for Alexander; it's just moved to the track. Curtis' indoor and outdoor track teams have won a combined five state titles in the past three years. Alexander has contributed to that success, as he runs the 200 (he just posted a 21.9 in the season's opening meet) and 100 (10.9 PR in ninth grade), those respective relays, and is sometimes triple jumper for good measure. Yet, in short order, Alexander will be happy to put his running days behind him.
"I would prefer just do football at the next level," he said in an interview last week. "If a college wants me to run track, I wouldn't say no, but I would prefer to focus on football."
If the cliché goes that some fast guys are track guys and some are football players, count Alexander firmly in the football camp. His mentality on the field seems to jive with what Stanford asks out of its secondary – if not every position group on the field.
"My mentality is to be an aggressive player," he said. "I'd rather be up in a guy's face in isolation, you and your man. I'll play any position in the secondary, kick returner, punt returner. Just try to make a play to get my team pumped up.
"Some teams play more zone and some teams more man. I prefer the man scheme. I feel that's my best asset... I want to get up there, jam and be aggressive. Cover, but also beat the screens and get tackles for losses. Change it up a lot."
The Bootleg's David Lombardi recently highlighted Coach David Shaw's philosophy that places a premium on physicality at all positions [Ed: even cornerback, see Alex Carter], to such an extent that blocking will be at the forefront in determining the wide receiver pecking order. It's thus obvious to see why Stanford wants to recruit a player with such a nose for the ball mentality, but an equally important question at this stage is whether Alexander believes Stanford's defensive philosophy would be a fit.
"It's not too bad," Alexander said of Stanford's defensive scheme. "I watched the Rose Bowl and the Oregon game. They changed it up a lot actually."
It's rare for schools from all six BCS conference to offer a single player, but Alexander has run that gamut. He reports offers from Ole Miss, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Arkansas in the SEC, Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State in the Pac-12, Kansas State in the Big 12, Georgia Tech in the ACC, Cincinnati in the Big East, Nebraska and Indiana in the Big Ten, and Tulane, Houston, Memphis, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana Lafayette to boot.
"My first offer was Ole Miss," he reports. "I had a real good showing at their camp. At one-on-ones, they put me with Ole Miss commits, and I was still shutting them down, so they offered me later on in the week. Ole Miss and Tulane offered at camps. Stanford saw me at practice and you can't say anything in practice, but Coach Lance has been in touch maybe once or twice a week ever since."
The constant contact has paid off for Lance Anderson and the Cardinal.
"I'm trying to get to Stanford," Alexander said. "I'm definitely going this summer, no doubt about it. Half my family originates from southern California, so I'm always finding ways to get back to California... I want to see the atmosphere, the campus what academic lives are like, the tours, the field, and if I can see myself living there maybe the next four years of my life. I want to talk to other coaches and see how my parents feel about the place."
While Alexander's father will accompany him to the Farm, both of his parents have a quiet influence on his thinking.
"They are not really saying anything yet," Terrence Alexander said. "They want me to go to a school that focuses on me the most and keeps me in the right place. They want to make sure I'm not picking a school for the wrong reason."
Alexander reports a 3.5 GPA, and one of the first things he told The Bootleg is that he wants "a degree that means something." Stanford coach Lance Anderson is his primary recruiter, and the two discuss his academic path to the Farm.
"Making sure I have all the right classes, keeping all As and Bs, and getting a good ACT score," Alexander says of his next steps toward eventual admittance at Stanford. "Right now I have everything I need, [Anderson]'s just keeping on track."
After stressing academics, both the overall quality of the institution and a school's strength in his areas of interest, Alexander added that a depth chart conducive to early playing time would be another factor in his decision making. Alexander says he won't announce leaders or until the end of summer, when he plans to narrow his list to four or five schools. However, he does allow that Stanford, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech are the schools in the most contact with him.
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