James Alexander came to Kentucky from Georgia knowing just one main thing about the Wildcats. "They said I would have an opportunity to play early, but I didn't know it would be as early as it was. I figured I would need at least a year to get bigger and stronger, but I never dreamed I would play right away. They threw me into the fire and I had to learn a lot right away," said the sophomore offensive tackle.
Alexander was a part-time starter at the end of last year. Despite missing spring practice with a back injury, Alexander continues to be No. 1 on the depth chart. And with the academic issues that sent 2004 starter Aaron Miller packing for the second time, Alexander is even more important to UK's success this year.
"I think I have surprised a lot of people, including myself," Alexander said. "I would not be doing as well if I didn't have people like Garry Williams to push me. Guys that know we need to get better help push us all. We help each other out every day."
Williams is Alexander's main competition for a starting position. Yet the two understand their competition not only makes them better, but that it will also make the team better. That's a big plus for the Wildcats.
"My goal is to start. I missed all of spring practice. It is kind of depressing when you are standing there rehabbing and everybody else is on the practice field. You go through all your steps and plays in your head to make sure you know what is going on. That motivated me to get out here and do what I needed to do to try and become the starter," Alexander said.
Alexander is an easy-going, likeable young man. However, it did irk him slightly that Miller was given third team All-SEC honors in preseason voting even though he missed all of last year. It was nothing personal with Miller, but Alexander felt that was an insult to the way he played last year.
"I really didn't pay that no mind. I used that as motivation because it was like a slap in my face," Alexander said. "They just disrespected me. They didn't think I did a good enough job last year. They don't think I will do a good job this year. I take all that as motivation to build strength for this season. This is going to be a better team. We are ready to play. We come out here fighting every day and go at it. We are not pussyfooting around as much as last year. We come to play. And I want to be a big part of that."
Alexander has extra motivation
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