On whether the Stanford football team had a
different attitude this year versus years past:
Definitely. Just being able to run the ball
as well as we did, some of things that we did, Toby and Anthony running the
ball, I think that was an accomplishment. Winning more games was the ultimate
goal and we failed to do that, but I think the run game was something special
On having three
head coaches over a five-year college career:
It was a really tough experience in that
regard from a personal standpoint. I do everything in a situation I can, where I
put my whole heart into it, and then it almost felt like -- like a trust thing
maybe, giving it your all and then having a coach go. A trust thing: coaches
leaving, coaches leaving. I always found throughout my career, every spring ball
and every fall, except for my final one-and-a-half years, I felt I always had to
prove myself, always had to learn a new system, always had to do this and that.
We never had a chance to build on anything, we were starting from scratch,
starting from scratch, and that was really, really hard.
Obviously, it was
three head coaches in tough situations, and that was obviously tough, but you're
able to deal with that. I think, as a senior this year, I had to mature quickly
over the past four-and-a-half years to deal with that. So it was weird. It was
an intense experience.
On the team dynamic:
Obviously, there's a dynamic just going on
in the locker room, the guys, obviously that's always fun. Before practice with
the guys, it was always going on. Everyone was different and, in their own
right, always good competition.
I don't know what it was with Nigerian nose tackles but
between Babatunde Oshinowo and Ekom Udofia, the Nigerians have helped me a lot,
because they're two good nose tackles. I played against them all these years.
They were always on the two-deep.
On the best
players he faced:
I remember being a redshirt freshman, 285 pounds, starting
at right guard and facing [former Oregon DL] Haloti Ngata the whole game, when
he was at home. I was the guard against him, so it was a lot of one-on-one
situations. That was a handful. He was a handful. He was very, very good. And
then there were certain guys over the years. USC's guys -- Sedrick Ellis had a
lot of moves and could do different things. Notre Dame had real solid defensive
tackles three of the four years I faced them in Derek Landry and Trevor Laws. They
were just leverage guys who could cause a lot of havoc, good
On Stanford players poised for a
This year, some
things were obviously pleasant -- I wouldn't say surprises -- but some guys came
along. Matt Kopa had great, great games this year at right tackle and really
came into his own. He didn't start the first couple [six], but he came into own
where he's a pretty big NFL prospect now because he has all the tools and just
put it together. It takes about one-and-a-half years to make the switch from DL
and then get into it. What a great move by the coaches. It's not just benefitted
him, but also the team. Eye-opening.
line, you look across and there's some really awesome depth and we'll continue
to have awesome depth. Four defensive tackles we can just rotate is something
that we've never had, so with Brian Bulke, Sione Fua, Ekom Udofia and Matt
Masifilo, those guys all coming back is huge, huge. Plus, Erik Lorig and Tom
Keiser were recognized by the Pac-10 [Honorable Mention] and are two guys that
make the defensive ends an obvious area of strength. I really look forward to
On how he thinks back on his Stanford career:
There's a lot of people who ask me this all
the time, ‘Would you ever regret going to Stanford?' Absolutely not. I think
that, at the end of the day, Stanford was an experience.
I think dealing with some of the adversity,
the adverse times, especially with the coaching changes and all that stuff,
really helped me mature, helped me deal with things and really helped teach me
to take things day-by-day. Work your hardest every day and be a little more
patient. I was always wanted things faster, faster, and I think Stanford helped
with that. Obviously it was tough but I think at the end of day Stanford got it
right with Coach Harbaugh. And someone had to experience some of the other tough
times, but I think Stanford's in great hands right now, and I think not only the
obvious combination of the education and Harbaugh recruiting some of the real
top prospects from all over the country.
there again. It wasn't there for awhile, but it's there again. We have the right
guy for the job and these football players and my teammates are going to reap
the benefits. Obviously, some classes had to go through the downside and looking
back on it, one of worst periods of Stanford football in history, but at least
the arrow's looking up.
Note that I didn't even ask about Coach Harbaugh in the question, and Fletcher's
out of the program by now and doesn't need to stay in his coaches' good graces.
Suffice it to say, then, that's some genuine praise for Jim Harbaugh.
I was done, all
out of questions and just chatting with Fletcher off the record about our
respective Stanford experiences. [And Trent Johnson, if you're reading this in
Baton Rouge, yes, that's not a typo. I can eventually run out of questions.] But
then I hear Fletcher start to get fired up, and, sure enough, next thing out of
his mouth is "make sure to put this in the interview." He said he always got
asked about his takeaways from Stanford, and wanted to make sure people heard
On his Stanford
Stanford experience, I think part of it is that you're a football player and get
recruited to play football at Stanford, go into your freshman dorm, and everyone
has accomplished equally, things comparable to you, or has done a lot better
things than you have. At the end of the day, Stanford's a humbling place. You
have to work hard every day, because everyone else has. That's a type of
environment that's hard to replicate. I always say it's an incubator for
success. I was motivated not just by the athletes, but guys with startup
companies or studying engineering or biology -- everyone is great at what they
do. And I think that was the most important thing I took away.
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Fifth-year senior center Alex Fletcher reflected on his Stanford career and looked forward to his future in an exclusive interview with TheBootleg.com's Daniel Novinson. In Part II, hear as he describes his toughest challenge at Stanford, his thoughts on Coach Harbaugh and which of his teammates he expects to break out in the years to come.