Two cousins, Rufus and Gerald, took very different paths before the 2007 Fiesta Bowl game and two different paths since that epic game.
Let me preface this article by
saying that it is directed toward the vast majority of newer fans to the
program. I have come late to the
show, having started following Boise State football around the
year and Ryan Dinwiddie's career. I
still remember the
game and the first TCU game, but even
then I was not a huge follower of the program. I
have lived in this area since 1994, but I still had so many other things pulling
at me that I had not yet truly discovered Bronco football and the joys of
following the program. Boise State
is a program and school that seemed to be getting things right with their
priorities. However, this is not to
say that all may not find some things of interest in the article and even some
new information. Anyway, I digress. Most
of my information comes from a book entitled "Blue Collar Mentality" by Tom
Barbour, a longtime resident of
, self-described football junkie, and now
a resident of
. Credit to where credit is due.
In 2001, two cousins Rufus and Gerald Alexander were on separate
journeys, one starting out in the
and the other on the west coast. Gerald
was an all league Most Valuable Player representing
excelling in both track and playing
quarterback in football. Rufus was
an outstanding nationally recognized athlete who was rescued from abject poverty
by surrogate parents David and Linda Barham in
. Sound familiar? Gerald
was a good athlete but received a grand total of two offers.
Gerald was considered too small with only average speed.
Rufus had multiple offers and finally chose
chose a program that had only been Division I for six years and was working on
its fifth coach in seven years.
Five years later, both players were closing out their final years as
fifth-year seniors. During Rufus's
stellar career at
he had been selected to three
All-American teams as a linebacker and as a senior was named the Big 12
Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Gerald
was finishing a solid but unspectacular career as a cornerback and finally as a
safety in his senior year. This
switch to safety was to have unexpected and spectacular results for Gerald and
Gerald had never really flourished at cornerback during his first three
. Coach Marcel Yates, with
the blessing of new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox moved Gerald to safety
between his junior and senior years. Gerald
as a skinny 6 foot, 170-pound kid and was
now up to 205 pounds of weight room muscle.
He hit with a force that could and did knock off opponents' helmets. Gerald's
speed, intensity, and heart made him a natural at safety. The
work and time he put in during his first four years at cornerback had finally
come full circle and he had found his natural position.
During his senior year, Gerald had to learn and grow into his new
position and he started out slowly. Finally,
about halfway through the season, Gerald started to put together his talent with
his other attributes and showed flashes that would later lead to great things
for the young man. By the time the
Fiesta Bowl came in 2007, Gerald was a polished and solid safety ready to
perform at the highest level. It was
in this bowl game that he made a name for himself with National Football League
scouts. Gerald intercepted a pass, ran down Adrian Peterson at the goal line for
a loss and demonstrated that he had indeed learned his lessons well.
Incidentally, it was during the week leading up to the game that Gerald and
Rufus finally met for the first time.
Still, Gerald was not guaranteed an invite to the Scouting Combine, while
Rufus had an engraved invitation awaiting him. Rufus
had also played well in the Fiesta Bowl, making seventeen tackles and was being
touted as a first day pick, while Gerald was not even sure he would receive an
invite to the combine. Gerald did
get his invite and showed very well, posting a 4.5 40-yard speed, a 41-inch
vertical, and finishing near the top in all other agility drills. Rufus
unfortunately had a very poor showing and posted numbers well below what was
expected of a high-round draft pick.
Gerald was hoping for a
second-round pick on draft day, but also realized he might not get picked at
all. However on
April 28th, 2007
, while he was doing his laundry, a call
came from the NFL informing him that he was the 61st pick overall by
the Detroit Lions.
had actually made two trades to move up
in the draft so they could select Gerald. The
Lions had done their homework and recognized the potential of Gerald.
His cousin Rufus was not selected until pick number 176 of the 6th
Gerald went on to have a solid season with
, playing all 16 games as their starting
safety before injuring his knee. He
was later traded to
where he now plies his wares. Rufus
was not so lucky. In his first
preseason game, he tore his
and ended his season. Rufus
went on to play with three teams;
, and is now a free agent. I
dare say the future looks bright for Gerald while not so bright for Rufus, but
one can hope that both cousins have long and productive careers.
I will leave the readers to draw whatever conclusions they care to from
this story. For me, it once again
has been so successful. The
Bronco Staff takes a young man that
was not heavily recruited and the player puts in a tremendous amount of work to
make himself the best athlete he can be (which goes directly to character).
The Bronco coaches find the best fit for the young man, and then put him
in a position where he can succeed. This
is a large part of the "Blue Collar Mentality" to me and it is the blueprint
should remain at a high level of play indefinitely.
A quote from former
tackle, Bobby Lepori, may sum up the
mindset better than anyone else has been able to. "The
number one thing that
does is—it is team over individual. You
just have people that are selfless. They
don't care if they get a stat. They
don't care if they don't get their name in the paper. Honestly,
watching them on film is like watching a machine. They're
never off beat. They just do a great
job. In '06, those guys knew what
they were doing. Well before we even
snapped a ball, they were calling out our formations, calling out our plays. That
doesn't come from our bad play calling; that comes from hours and hours of
film study. Kids just don't
dedicate themselves the way
does". That pretty much sums it up for
Some extra fun facts
I found while perusing through this book.
was the big dog in the state from the late 50's well into the 80's.
None other than Ara Parsegian of ND
fame reportedly said that Borah repeatedly was one of the best programs in the
he and Tommy Prothro of UCLA came often to recruit the talent from this
supplied much of the talent to the BSU teams of that era, including some amazing
Boise State Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier was a Borah High player in
the seventies. He went on to play at
UCLA on full scholarship and became a star tight end.
There is a "Brock Forsey" award still given out by a group of Chicago
fans to the player who best exemplifies the qualities that the Chicago Bears are
known for; toughness, excelling in the absence of great athletic ability, and
getting the job done in the face of adversity. The
award pretty much sums up to me the qualities of the whole BSU team, although
the "absence of great athletic ability" phrase has changed drastically. I
still feel Brock got a raw deal with
and should have been given more of a
chance. If anyone had ever been
destined to be a Chicago Bear, it would definitely be Brock Forsey. He
epitomized the essence of what it was to be a Bear.
has averaged four starters or key-backups who were former
non-scholarship players (walk-ons). That
is by far the highest percentage in the nation.