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Rufus Alexander
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 228 | Position:OLB | College: Oklahoma
 
Overview

The Oklahoma weak-side linebacker has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks for his quickness, range and ability to stay on his feet and flow to the ball, closing with a sudden burst. He was the team's most consistent defender the last three seasons, becoming the first Sooner to lead the team in tackles in consecutive seasons (2005-06) since Rocky Calmus from 1999-2001.

Alexander earned All-State first-team honors and was ranked among nation's top 20 linebackers in the country by Prep Star and Super Prep during his senior year at Christian Life Academy. The three-year defensive starter also played tight end. In seven games as a senior, he had team highs with 86 tackles, 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 12 sacks. He led the team to the district titles as a junior (10-2) and senior (8-4). He also earned All-District honors in basketball.

Alexander enrolled at Oklahoma in 2002. While redshirting that season, he shared the Iron Man Award for top strength and conditioning by a freshman with Paul Thompson. A right knee anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2003 spring drills would force Alexander to sit out the first five games of the season. He saw action in one contest, posting two tackles.

In 2004, Alexander started 10 of 12 games at weak-side outside linebacker. He was named All-Big 12 Conference second-team by the Associated Press and honorable mention by the league's coaches, coming up with two sacks and seven stops for losses. He ranked third on the team with 79 tackles (49 solos), as he caused and recovered three fumbles, intercepted a pass and deflected four others. He also had five quarterback pressures.

A consensus All-Big 12 Conference first-team choice and member of the Butkus Award Watch List, Alexander led the team with 102 tackles (56 solos) in 2005. He tied for third on the team with five sacks and finished second with 17 stops behind the line of scrimmage. His nine pressures paced the Sooners, as he also batted away nine passes and picked off another. He recovered one fumble and caused two others.

Alexander was selected All-American first-team by the American Football Coaches Association and second-team by the Walter Camp Foundation as a senior. He again led the team with 118 tackles (75 solos), adding 3.5 sacks while also leading the team with 14 stops for losses, the fourth-best figure in the conference. He caused four fumbles, recovered two others, batted down three passes and had one interception.

In 39 games at Oklahoma, Alexander started 36 times at weak-side linebacker. He posted 296 tackles (182 solos) with 10.5 sacks for minus-78 yards, 38 stops for losses of 121 yards and 17 quarterback pressures. He caused 10 fumbles and recovered six others. He also had three interceptions and 16 pass deflections.

Analysis

Positives: Has lean upper body muscle development with long arms, tight waist and hip and room to carry at least another 10 pounds of bulk without it impacting his overall quickness … Move-oriented type of tackler who is better making plays in space than when stationed at the line of scrimmage … Very active moving down the line, showing the loose hips and lateral range to pursue long distances in attempts to make the play … Has a good feel for plays in front of him and works hard to avoid and slip through single blocks to create havoc in the backfield … Quick-twitch type who has the sudden burst needed to close in a hurry … Shows good open-field acceleration and ease of movement in transition, making him a possible safety prospect (best fit is at weak-side linebacker in a Cover-2 scheme) … Hard worker in the weight room who plays at a high intensity level … Lacks great read-and-react skills, but will show urgency in getting to the ball once he locates it … Relies more on his speed than strength (power fails to translate to the field at times) to beat offensive linemen off the edge … Good at keeping his pads down and colliding with the lead blocker to clog the rush lanes … Can squeeze the tight end to make inside run plays (will get engulfed by offensive tackles, though) … Uses his hands effectively to mirror and reroute tight ends and backs in the short-area passing game … Scrapes to the ball well when he uses his hands to play off blocks and keep separation … Pursues well in the open, showing good acceleration, but is more of a flow-type rather than a take-on type of defender … Can run, slide and move in space to make outside plays and shows good recovery when he out-runs the action … Needs more strength and bulk to work through trash, but has the speed to cover ground from sideline to sideline … Not a blow-up type of tackler, but efficiently strikes to fit (more dependable in the open than tight areas) … Has the body control to break down in space … Has good recovery speed when the receivers gets behind him, but is best handling slot receivers rather than playing in the deep secondary … Opens his hips smoothly dropping back in coverage, getting good depth in the zone … Adequate at anticipating the receiver's moves and does a good job of reaching around to deflect some throws … Has very good timing and leaping ability (just lacks the natural hand extension to make the interception) … Effective outside blitzer who has the change of direction agility and rush moves that make it difficult for slower lineman to block him on the outside … Showed improvement in 2006 when using his hands to create a rush lane and has the sustained speed to pressure the pocket, even when taking a wide loop to the ball … Comes out of his stance and attacks the ball carriers with decent pop on contact.

Negatives: Lacks the bulk or raw power to split double teams or bull rush when working in-line … Plays with good urgency, but his motor will shut down at times, especially on plays directed away from him … Lacks great ball anticipation skills and is slow to locate the ball at times when working through trash … Does not have the anchor to hold ground at the point of attack … Lacks the upper body strength or good hand placement to shed and gets frustrated when his rush moves fail … Will get a bit reckless in his play and is prone to costly penalties … More of a drag-down type of tackler, as he fails to generate that good weight room strength when striking in closed quarters … Doesn't have natural hands for the interception and several easy pass thefts resulted in pass break-ups instead, as he doesn't extend well to catch outside his frame … Lacks the girth and bulk to face up to the bigger blockers and is easily washed out when trying to shoot tight gaps … Generally a good character type, but did have one incident in 2006 in which he was arrested on Oct. 15 in Norman on misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and interference with official process (was not suspended, as the coaches determined he was trying to break up a fight before it happened).

Compares To: IAN GOLD-Denver … Put Alexander in a Cover-2 defense, where he will play in space and utilize his speed and you will have a very effective player on the weak side. Some compare him to Derrick Brooks, but while he has that closing speed, he lacks the instincts and feel for the ball that Brooks displays. He could make like Seattle's Michael Boulware and shift to safety at the next level to compensate for a lack of bulk. He is best served playing on the move, as his recovery speed lets him make up for a lack of superb field awareness.

Career Notes

Alexander became the 10th player in school history to lead the team in tackles in two consecutive seasons (2005-06) and was the first since Rocky Calmus (1999-2001) … Ranks 14th in on the school's career record list with 38 tackles behind the line of scrimmage … Tied with Derrick Strait (2000-03) for 11th in school history with six fumble recoveries … Registered five stops for losses in the 2006 Middle Tennessee game, tying the Oklahoma single-game record that he shares with Teddy Lehman (vs. Kansas State, 2003), Jimmy Wilkerson (vs. Baylor, 2000), Brian Bosworth (vs. Kansas, 1986), Tony Casillas (vs. Iowa State, 1984), Keith Gary (vs. Florida State, 1980) and Greg Sellmeyer (vs. Nebraska, 1976) … Alexander's 17 tackles vs. Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl are the most by a Sooner in postseason action.

2006 Season

First-team All-American selection by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), adding second-team honors from The NFL Draft Report and the Walter Camp Foundation All-Big 12 Conference first-team choice and named the league's Defensive Player of the Year … Started all year at weak-side linebacker, leading the team with a career-high 118 tackles (75 solos), 14 stops for losses of 44 yards and four forced fumbles … Credited with 3.5 sacks for minus 25 yards and three quarterback pressures … Recovered a pair of fumbles and deflected three passes … Also had one interception … Produced 102 plays vs. the run and 26 vs. the pass … Registered 20 third-down stops (15 vs. the run) and four more on fourth-down … Tackled opposing ball carriers at the line of scrimmage eleven times … Made eight tackles inside the red zone, including five on goal line plays … Helped lead a defense that ranked 16th in the nation in total defense (287.14 ypg) and rushing defense (98.71 ypg) … Twice charged with personal foul penalties (vs. Texas and Iowa State).

2006 Game Analysis

Alabama-Birmingham … Opened the season with ten tackles (4 solos) and a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage … Sacked QB Sam Hunt for a 4-yard loss with 6:45 left in the third quarter and leveled Dan Burks for a 1-yard loss on a run off left tackle early in the fourth quarter.

Washington … Followed with eleven tackles (5 solos), two pressures and a pair of pass break-ups … Also assisted defensive tackle Larry Birdine in taking down QB Isaiah Stanback for a 1-yard loss on a bootleg at the start of the second quarter.

Oregon … Caused a fumble and registered seven tackles (4 solos) … Stripped the ball from tailback Jonathan Stewart the Oklahoma recovered a the OU 27 midway through the third quarter, setting up Paul Thompson's 31-yard scoring strike to Malcolm Kelly.

Middle Tennessee … Collected eight tackles (5 solos) with a career-high five stops behind the line of scrimmage, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery … Tackled Eugene Gross for no gain on a rushing attempt and on the next play, Alexander stripped the ball from Gross on a 3-yard run, as Oklahoma's Cal Thibodeaux recovered the ball at midfield, setting up Paul Thompson's 18-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Kelly midway through the first quarter … Teamed with defensive tackle Larry Birdine to stop DeMarco McNair for a1-yard loss on a rushing attempt during the Blue Raiders' next drive … Recovered a fumble by QB Clint Marks at the MTSU 28 at the start of the second quarter and took down Joe Graddock for a 3-yard loss on a run at the MTSU 19 with 2:23 left in the first half … Leveled Gross for a 1-yard loss on a run early in the third quarter and then did the same to McNair with 1:03 remaining in that frame.

Texas … Was hit with a personal foul penalty on Adrian Peterson's 59-yard kickoff return, finishing with five tackles (2 solos), including one that stopped tailback Jamaal Charles on a fourth quarter third-&-15 run that netted 5 yards.

Iowa State … Intercepted a Bret Meyer pass at the ISU 38 midway through the third quarter to set up an Oklahoma 35 yard field goal and made seven tackles … Was called for a personal foul with 6:31 left in the game.

Colorado … Delivered eleven tackles (6 solos), including three third-down stops and assisted defensive tackle Larry Birdine in taking down tailback Hugh Charles for a 1-yard loss at the OU 24 early in the second quarter.

Missouri … Came up with seven solo tackles, a 14-yard sack, two stops for minus 15 yards and a forced fumble … On the game's opening drive, Alexander tackled tailback Tony Temple for a 1-yard loss … Early in the second quarter, he sacked QB Chase Daniel for a 14-yard loss, causing a fumble, but the Tigers recovered the pigskin.

Texas A&M … Produced nine tackles, including three third-down stops and had three more hits that took down ball carriers at the line of scrimmage … Assisted Cal Thibodeaux in tackling tailback Courtney Lewis for a 1-yard loss on a third-&-2 run, forcing the Aggies to punt at the start of the second half.

Texas Tech … Made seven tackles with one third-down stop and another on fourth down, as he also had a pass deflection and a pressure … Tackled Danny Amendola for a 1-yard loss on a punt return early in the third quarter.

Baylor … Delivered six tackles (5 solos) with two stops for minus 6 yards … Took down Paul Mosley for a 1-yard loss on a late first quarter run and upended QB Blake Szymanski for a 5-yard loss on a first-&-15 bootleg early in the third quarter.

Oklahoma State … Added seven solo tackles, including one that stopped Zac Robinson after a 3-yard gain on a third-&-goal run at the start of the fourth quarter (Robinson would turn the ball over on a fumble on the next play).

Nebraska (Big 12 Championship) … Made six solo tackles and recovered a fumble by QB Zac Taylor at the OU 46 on a third-&-4 play at the start of the game.

Boise State (Fiesta Bowl) … Put on a tremendous performance in his final collegiate game, but that effort could not prevent the Sooners from losing the game, 43-42 in overtime … Registered a career-high 17 tackles (14 solos) with 1.5 sacks for minus 7 yards and a forced fumble … Sacked QB Jared Zabransky for a 6-yard loss on third-&-5 with 3:34 left in the first half, forcing BSU to punt … Caused a fumble when he knocked the ball out of the arms of tailback Ian Johnson and Oklahoma's Curtis Lofton recovered it at the OU 29 with 8:34 left in regulation play … Sacked Zabransky (along with Cory Bennett) for a 2-yard loss on third-&-10 with 2:40 left in the game, forcing Boise top to punt … Record Watch-His 17 tackles were the most in a game by a Sooner since Lance Mitchell totaled 19 vs. Missouri in 2002 … His 17 tackles also set a Sooner bowl game record.

2005 Season

Consensus All-Big 12 Conference first-team selection … Started all year at weak-side outside linebacker, leading a unit that ranked fourth in the nation in rushing defense (90.58 ypg), 13th in total defense (306.67 ypg), fourth in sacks (3.75 per game) and ninth in tackles for losses (8.5 per game) … Paced the Sooners with 102 tackles (56 solos) and finished second with 17 stops for losses of 51 yards … Tied for third on the team with five sacks for minus 36 yards and shared the team-lead with nine quarterback pressures … Caused a pair of fumbles and recovered another … Deflected nine passes and intercepted another.

2005 Game Analysis

Texas Christian … Opened the season with two pressures, a pair of pass deflections and ten tackles (4 solos), including one for a loss..

Tulsa … Collected eleven tackles (7 solos) with a 2-yard sack, two pressures, a pass break-up and 3.5 stops for minus 8 yards.

Kansas State … Added six tackles (4 solos) with two stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Texas … Followed with ten tackles (4 solos) and a deflected pass.

Kansas … Intercepted a pass, was in on ten tackles (5 solos), batted away a pass and made two stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Baylor … Caused a fumble and made five tackles with a pressure.

Nebraska … Registered a season-high thirteen tackles (11 solos) and sacked QB Zac Taylor three times for losses totaling 25 yards while also causing a fumble.

Texas A&M … Delivered eight hits with two pass break-ups and two pressures.

Oklahoma State … Sacked QB Donovan Woods for a 9-yard loss, had 3.5 stops for minus 12 yards and eight tackles (4 solos).

Oregon (Holiday Bowl) … Came up with nine tackles (6 solos) and a pass deflection.

2004 Season

All-Big 12 Conference second-team selection by the Associated Press, earning honorable mention from the league's coaches … Started ten games at weak-side outside linebacker, coming off the bench vs. Nebraska and Colorado) … Did not play in the season opener vs. Bowling Green … Finished third on the team with 74 tackles (49 solos), including two sacks for minus 17 yards, seven stops for losses of 26 yards and five quarterback pressures … Caused and recovered three fumbles … Deflected four passes and returned one interception 5 yards (vs. Kansas) … Had a season-high ten tackles in the Texas clash.

2003 Season

Missed most of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a tear of his right knee anterior cruciate ligament … Suffered the injury in the annual spring game … Made two tackles in the Texas clash.

2002 Season

Redshirted … Shared the Iron Man Award for top strength and conditioning by a freshman with Paul Thompson.

Injury Report

2003: Suffered a third degree anterior cruciate ligament sprain and slight tear in his right knee during April drills … Underwent surgery and missed most of the season.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.62 in the 40-yard dash … 420-pound bench press … 500-pound squat … 340-pound power clean … 35-inch vertical jump … 10'0" broad jump.

Combine: 4.79 in the 40-yard dash … 35-inch vertical jump … 9'9" broad jump … 4.30 20-yard shuttle run … 7.06 three cone drill … Benched 225 pounds 25 times.

Off-Field Issues

Alexander was arrested on October 15th, 2006, after a confrontation with police. Alexander said he was trying to stop a fight early Sunday. He was charged with disturbing the peace and interfering with official process - both misdemeanors - and was released after posting bail. Alexander told The Oklahoma Daily he was in his car with a friend, Jared Scelfo, when James Wheeler stepped in front of the vehicle. A disturbance followed and police arrived. "My friend got out of the car and I was stopping him before he did something stupid," Alexander told the student newspaper.

High School

Attended Christian Life Academy (Baton Rouge, La.), playing football for his father, head coach David Barham … Earned All-State first-team honors and was ranked among nation's top 20 linebackers in the country by Prep Star and Super Prep during his senior year … The three-year defensive starter also played tight end … In seven games as a senior, he had team highs with 86 tackles, 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage and 12 sacks … Led the team to the district titles as a junior (10-2) and senior (8-4) … Also earned All-District honors in basketball.

Personal

Sociology major … Son of Melissa and David Barham … Born 4/12/83 … Resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.