Rufus Alexander plays football, and he plays it well. And he's finally playing football again.
Alexander, a 6-foot-1, 204-pound linebacker at Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, had to sit out much of last season and the first four games of this season due to sanctions by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association over his transfer from Westminster Academy in Opelousas, La.
"Rufus lived with me for three years in Opelousas," David Barham — former Westminster and current CLA head football coach — told Tiger Rag, explaining the sanctions. "When I changed jobs, I didn't immediately know if I was going to bring him with me, or let him stay in school down there. At the end of the summer, he said he wanted to stay with me and come to school (in Baton Rouge)."
Alexander transferred from Westminster to Christian Life for the 2000 school year, along with running back Ross Rix and running back/linebacker Jared Scelfo.
"There ended up being three kids from that school coming down here," Barham said. "We beat Parkview Baptist, and then after the Notre Dame game, people started complaining about the new players that were here. Then LHSAA started an investigation, and after week four, they ruled all three ineligible to play for different reasons."
Barham said that Scelfo was ruled ineligible due to the fact that his sister was still living in the house where his family formerly lived, and Rix couldn't play due to allegations that his father shopped him around to two or three different schools. Alexander and had to sit out the first four games this year (the number of games he played last season) because he didn't live with Barham for the entire summer.
"It's not very fair," Barham said. "All three went by the rules, but sometimes I guess that doesn't matter."
"It's killer," Alexander says of not being able to contribute. "Those games when I should be playing, but couldn't. I just tried to be there on the sidelines and encourage my team. Fire them up."
Even if Alexander had to sit out a while, the impact of his return was immediate, helping his team to a 14-0 win over University High in his first game back. Such schools as Texas, LSU, Alabama and a bevy of other SEC programs are noticing him.
Barham said that LSU recruiters took notice of Alexander when they were scouting another prominent Christian Life product, Michael Clayton. In comparing the two as Division-I prospects, Barham is quick to note the obvious differences in the players.
"Mike (Clayton) was an athlete and could have played three different positions in college. Rufus is going to be a linebacker," Barham noted, adding that Alexander would also play as a cover man when the situation called for it. Alexander ran a 4.65 40-yard dash over the summer at an LSU camp, and Texas has shown interest in using him in situations where he can blitz, play run support and cover in the secondary thanks to his speed and aggressiveness.
Barham said that LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn were schools that have shown interest in Alexander, and that official visits with Texas and Alabama have been set up or are in the works. Texas and Alabama have already offered him scholarships.
"Right now, there's no real difference to me between Texas and Alabama," Alexander told Tiger Rag. "I haven't taken any visits yet, but I'm planning on a few. I'm pretty open to everybody right now."
As far as Texas' plans to use him in a variety of situations — including possibly playing him as a safety or cover man — Alexander stated that his main desire is to play linebacker, possibly in the WILL slot.
"I just want to play," he says. "Once I decide where I want to go, I might commit early. It doesn't matter too much what position, and I really don't have any preference to any coaches. I just want to make an impact.""How much impact he makes depends on where he goes and the situation he's in," Barham said. "Talk to any high school coach and they'll tell you Rufus is an impact player at this level."