Bigger and healthier, LSU LB Donnie Alexander is ready for his senior season

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Donnie Alexander built a wall.

During a seemingly unmemorable scrimmage last Saturday, LSU’s offense ran a play that called for a combo block from left guard Garrett Brumfield. In other words, Brumfield was supposed to chip block the defensive tackle shaded to his inside before working up and blocking Alexander, the strongside linebacker.

As linebacker Devin White, who was playing on the weakside at the time, remembers, Alexander recognized the combo block as it developed. And instead of letting Brumfield – a man who’s nickname is “Bruiser” – come to him, Alexander crashed and engaged.

“Donnie was like ‘Let me build my wall,'” White said. “So he put his hand on the guard and [knocked him back]. When we saw that, we were like ‘Donnie usually uses his shoulder.’ You get a better push with your body parts than with your hands. So when he did that, [defensive coordinator Dave Aranda] was happy. He could tell that he had been working on it. It was a big jump in our room.”

Aranda wasn’t just happy. He was shocked.

“I go, ‘Donnie, I’ve never seen this from you. This is great,’” Aranda said. “He goes, ‘230, coach. 230.’ He’s 230 pounds now.”

Just last year, Alexander was listed at 212 pounds. As recently as this offseason, Ed Orgeron used to call him “Little Donnie.” But he’s not so little anymore. At this point, he’s anything but.

And he’s ready to take advantage of that.

“I still feel the same,” Alexander said of his play-style since the weight gain. “It’s just now I know I won’t get pushed back. People won’t be able to push me around. So that just boosts my confidence more.”

Time to lay the smackdown 

Packing on weight was easier for Alexander than it might’ve been for some of his teammates. He had two offseason months to kill, after all.

Alexander had surgery to repair a rotator cuff injury in April. Following the surgery, Alexander said he had two months where he wasn’t permitted to work out with his teammates and his shoulder was too raw to so much as run. So he spent time studying film and he did as much leg work as LSU strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt prescribed him. But he mostly spent time eating.

Packing on size was a necessity for Alexander to take over Kendell Beckwith’s role as LSU’s mack linebacker. Beckwith played at nearly 250 pounds after all. But Alexander is making it work at 230, packing a punch without sacrificing any of his well-known speed.

As White puts it: “He’s still fast. He’s not faster than me. He thinks he is. But he’s still fast.”

Physical improvements aside, Alexander is in a vulnerable position. LSU signed three gifted linebackers in this season’s freshman class and two of them – Jacob Phillips and Tyler Taylor – are pushing to take his job.

But Alexander doesn’t see this as a threat. He sees it as his obligation. In the same way that Beckwith and Duke Riley taught him how to play when he was young, it’s Alexander’s turn to mentor Phillips, Taylor and fellow freshman Patrick Queen.

The way Alexander looks at it, everyone has a personal goal and a team goal. But no one in the linebacker group lets their personal goals interfere with the good of the team. So if it’s best for the team to show Phillips, Taylor and Queen the ropes, that’s what he’ll do, even if it’s ultimately worse for his personal goals.

But what are his personal goals? Well, you’ll have to find out with the rest of us.

“My personal goals?” Alexander asked rhetorically. “Basically, I just want to ball out and let everybody know that what they saw in the past isn’t my real style of play. I can’t really describe it. That’s just something y’all will have to see when the season starts. I’m bigger. I’m going to be laying the smack down.”

 

The post Bigger and healthier, LSU LB Donnie Alexander is ready for his senior season appeared first on SEC Country.

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