Oxford LB has used no-fear attitude to reach pinnacle of his position
by Nick Birdsong
nbirdsong@annistonstar.com
Aug 23, 2011 | 4602 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD — Kwon Alexander ain’t never been scared.

Not when the Oxford sophomore got his first varsity start against national powerhouse Hoover.

And he certainly isn’t now, on the opposite end of that experience spectrum —the nation’s best outside linebacker heading into his senior season.

Alexander’s career began with a boom bigger than a bass line when he registered 18 tackles against the Bucs in the 2009 AHSAA Champions Challenge in Montgomery. He’d been moved from safety to linebacker just a week prior due to the Yellow Jackets’ concern about the second level of their defense.

With so much success at a young age — and even more accomplishments since — one might think he’d be cocky. Not at all.

Alexander, who just turned 17, is as reserved as they come. But he’s no respecter of persons between the lines. That’s part of the no-fear attitude he was taught as a young child playing in the Coosa Valley League, he said.

“I didn’t know I was going to get 18 (tackles),” he said. “But I knew I was going to ball out regardless.

“I’ve never been scared of anything. Them having state championships and me being a sophomore didn’t really matter to me. If you’ve got heart, you’re just going to go out there and play. I don’t have any fear.”

It wound up being the best personnel move coach John Grass and his staff ever made as Alexander went on to rack up 133 tackles, including eight sacks that season.

“He’s by far the best outside backer that I’ve ever coached,” said Grass, a 20-year veteran of the coaching business. “He’s probably one of, if not the best, defensive player I’ve ever coached.

“He’s just got that type of ability and nose for the football and desire to get to the ball and make plays. If he continues to progress, he’ll have a great career.”

While he may be the best Grass has ever coached, the question for such a big-time player is bigger than that: Is he the best player ever to come out of Calhoun County?

That’s high cotton and always debatable.

It’s a conversation to be held once his career is actually over and we can compare his body of work to the likes of former Alexandria running back Mac Campbell, the state’s all-time leading rusher with 9,839 yards.

Among others.

At Anniston alone, there’s an entire catalog of greats — Eric Davis, Steve Christopher, Orlando Waters, Andra Franklin, Rodney Morris and Damien Dorsey. At one point in the 1990s, Anniston was tied with famed DeLasalle High in California for the high school with the most current players in the NFL.

But even with all that said, it’d be hard to argue that Alexander isn’t the biggest recruit to ever come out of the county especially in this Rivals-Scout-ESPN world of Webzines dedicated solely to tracking the careers of prep prospects.

“We knew coming into that year (Alexander’s sophomore season) that he had a lot of ability, and that if he progressed as a player he was going to be a D-1 guy,” Grass said. “He has all the parameters — his height, weight, speed all those things. And he had great sophomore tape.”

Following his sophomore season, Alexander was offered by then-defending national champion Alabama as were talented classmates defensive back/wide receiver Trae Elston and offensive lineman Michael Flint; Alexander, however, was always considered the gem of the bunch.

The only knock against him — if you consider it a knock — would be his size.

Some say he’s small for a linebacker and might be better suited at the next level for safety. His stature is a non-factor to him and the coaching staff; Grass said he’s yet to hit his growth spurt and could easily be 230-240 pounds in a couple years.

“I know I’m going to get bigger in college, but I use my size to my advantage,” said Alexander, who said he admires NFL linebacker Ray Lewis’ style of play. “I’m faster than most offensive linemen and if they get to me, my hands are quicker than theirs.”

He played it low-key this summer spending most of his time engaged in team activities with the Yellow Jackets as they prepared to improve upon their 7-5 mark from last year, which ended with a 23-21 loss to rival Gadsden City on the road.

When he did venture out this summer, he showed out, winning Co-MVP at the Nike Football Training Camp in Georgia then participated in The Opening, a Nike sponsored 7-on-7 to which an invite was only extended to the nation’s players ranked in the ESPN top 150. Elston also participated.

He’s dwindled his list of suitors down to six who remain in contention for his signature come National Signing Day in early February, when he said he’ll announce his intentions. The list includes Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Miami, Oregon and Florida State.

“I stay humble and just be me,” he said. “I’ll never change. Some people never get this opportunity. I’m just real with it.”

Although people know who he is virtually anywhere he goes and he’s often asked for his autograph, he remains the same ‘ole Kwon— cooler than air-conditioning off the field more vicious than Sid on it.

“There’s a lot of weight that comes along with the notoriety that he’s gotten, but I think he’s handled it well because he does produce,” Grass said.

Same way he did the first time he ever stepped onto the field as a starter in a varsity game.

Nick Birdsong can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.
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Oxford LB has used no-fear attitude to reach pinnacle of his position by Nick Birdsong
nbirdsong@annistonstar.com

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