Sooner DE back from early-season stabbing
Published: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 9:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 9:08 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE — For the Oklahoma Sooners, the return of redshirt freshman defensive end Frank Alexander has led to a more productive pass rush and more depth on a defensive line ravaged by a rash of regular-season injuries.
For Alexander, it's meant something more.
"God gave me another opportunity," Alexander said. "I just want to take that and move forward with it."
Alexander knows how quickly it almost vanished. The Saturday night following Oklahoma's 57-2 season-opening win against Tennessee-Chattanooga, Alexander was stabbed in the right arm by an unknown assailant when a fight broke out at an off-campus party in Norman, Okla.
The blade came within an inch of severing an artery, which could have caused Alexander to bleed to death. Instead, Alexander was forced to sit out the next six games with a cast on his arm.
But since his return in early November, Alexander has lived up to his promise as a defensive playmaker. In Oklahoma's final five games of the season, Alexander has forced two fumbles, made 18 tackles and recorded two-and-a-half sacks.
Keeping Alexander away from Florida quarterback Tim Tebow will be a priority for the Gators when they face the Sooners tonight at Dolphin Stadium in the FedEx BCS championship.
"I had something to prove and I just wanted to go out there and play hard, every snap," Alexander said.
Alexander spent the six weeks of rehabilitation mostly working on his leg strength while his arm was in a cast. Family members and teammates visited him in the hospital.
Being away from football gave Alexander time to reflect on the choices he had made.
"The whole time I was down I was just thinking about, maybe if I wouldn't have went, I'd still be playing," Alexander said. "That just was beating me down, beating me down. So when I came back and got the opportunity I just wanted to go out there and learn from it."
Alexander's return coincided with the loss of starting defensive end Auston English to a knee injury (English will be back for tonight's title game.) Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables described the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Alexander as an instinctive but still-raw player.
"He gets in there and does some knucklehead things but falls into some things and makes a lot of good things happen," Venables said. "So I think he's got a tremendous future."
Alexander said he's just happy to be playing football again.
"My first year playing going in there and getting a chance to play for a national championship, it doesn't get better than this," Alexander said. "I'm just really excited."
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