By Ryne Berthelot
It’s become the same sight each Friday night in Strawberry Stadium lately: A St. Thomas Aquinas defensive line without highly touted defensive tackle Edwin Alexander at the helm.
“It’s driving me crazy,” the Hammond-native Alexander said. “But the knee is feeling good. The reason I’ve been out the last few weeks is because of fluid built up in my leg, and the doctor told me I had to sit out for two weeks. Then he wanted to give me one more week to get back in shape. Hopefully I’ll be back 100 percent by the playoffs.”
But a torn meniscus isn’t stopping Southeastern Conference coaches from offering the 6-foot-3, 300-plus pound junior, who originally pledged to play to LSU but decommitted back in April. Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Florida have all offered Alexander scholarships, while an offer from Alabama is likely on the way.
“I just wanted the recruiting process to be better than what it was,” explained Alexander who is considered to be the top high school player in Louisiana by recruiting websites Rivals.com and 247sports.com
“When I committed, no colleges would talk to me. They all thought ‘He’s done, he’s going to LSU. It’s over,’ When I decommitted, I got about 10 offers after that. I just wanted to see what else was out there.”
However, outside of his list of colleges, it would be hard to tell “Big Ed” – as STA’s student section calls him – apart from any of his teammates. At first impression, he comes off as shy, fresh-faced, and maybe a little confused by the attention he’s been getting.
After all, it was only three years ago that Alexander even picked up the game of football.
“I started playing football during my seventh grade year,” Alexander said, watching the halftime performance during last Friday’s game against St. Helena. “I never really played any recreational ball. It’s all something new to me.”
It was at the urging of his father that Big Ed decided to try football, and only football. Within two seasons, Alexander was offered a scholarship by Florida. But even he didn’t think it would get to this point.
“I didn’t see myself playing football long when I started playing in seventh grade. Then I got to ninth grade, and started getting serious with it. Coaches started talking to me. And it just took of from there.”
For St. Thomas Aquinas coach John White, it’s business as usual for his star player.
“I just treat him like everybody else,” Alexander’s coach said. “You got to do this, got to do that. He’s got a good spirit, and he’s well-respected. He’s a good kid.”
Alexander is usually ranked by recruiting websites as the second or third best defensive tackle in the national class of 2016, and unanimously ranked first in the Louisiana class. An influx of young defensive tackles may deter him from calling Baton Rouge home for the next four years, however.
And while most believe that LSU is still priority number one on Big Ed’s list, he wasn’t ready to show his hand to the public for now.
“That’s too close of a call right now. I’ve loved every school that’s offered me so far,” he said.
It looks like Edwin Alexander’s not quite finished enjoying the recruiting ride just yet.