Catching up with Greg Alexander


Quarterback is the most scrutinized position in sports, analyzed more than even the guy who supplied flaxseed oil to Barry Bonds. Every bit of nuance is inspected, as if it holds the key to some secret treasure. It becomes so complicated, it’s like trying to gather water with a fork.

Former Piner High and Santa Rosa JC quarterback Greg Alexander also starred at Hawaii. Photo by Associated Press

“You have to be part of the team,” said Greg Alexander on Saturday, “and yet you have to be above the team. You can go out with the guys, but you have to leave by 10 to get your rest. You can watch game film and everyone can see who made the mistake, but you can’t say anything. If you do, you’ll lose everyone in the room. The absolute worst thing a quarterback can do in the huddle is mumble when he calls a play.”

Alexander was one of the instructors at a quarterback clinic held at Casa Grande High School. The list is impressive: UNLV-bound Nick Sherry, Cardinal Newman head coach Paul Cronin and living legend-Yoda-Zen Master-guru Ed Lloyd.
The 12 kids — ranging from seventh graders to 12th graders — received advice on everything from focus, confidence, passing mechanics, seeing the field, seeing themselves, placing priorities, note-taking and projecting invulnerability.
When all those attributes are realized, what’s the result? Someone like Alexander, the former Piner quarterback, the SRJC quarterback who set a national junior college career record with 71 touchdown passes, who at Hawaii led the nation in total offense after three games in 2009 (446 yards a game) and was second in passing (411.3 yards per game).

Alexander received all the accolades, placed strong on the NFL’s radar and, at 23, should be on his way to pro ball, at least NFL Europe.
If it wasn’t for his dad-gum left knee. This Thursday at Stanford Alexander, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, will undergo his 10th operation on that knee.
Alexander isn’t sure exactly what the surgeons will find. Neither are the docs. Bone spurs appear to be in there.

It should take six to eight months to completely rehab. That Alexander is frustrated beyond words is an understatement. “It could turn into reconstruction,” he said.
Injury is never in a quarterback’s playbook. It is the X Factor of X Factors, the one wild card that can turn all the preparation and skill and commitment into background noise. But Alexander doesn’t spend a lot of time on what hasn’t happened. Rather he would think of perfection: Eleven guys on offense smoothly move down the field, like an approaching and unchecked army, all of it because of the quarterback.

“Everything slows down,” Alexander said. “You are hitting guys in stride. Every time you touch the ball you know you’re going to score.”
It is the bliss all athletes feel at the moment of success. But no one feels it as intensely as the quarterback, for he is taking 10 other guys with him. Alexander may never get another chance to do that. He said he’ll try pro football next year, if his knee responds. If it doesn’t, he’ll try landing a graduate assistant coaching job at an university and go from there.

Either way, it’s been a ride he would never change. There were those times he did hold the key to that secret treasure. He turned the key and what he saw, what he felt — when 11 men moved as one because of him — that’s the reason those 12 kids were there Saturday, even if they didn’t realize it at the time.

“You never want to get off the field,” said Alexander, speaking of the best legal drug ever manufactured. Competitive euphoria.

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