Alexander Stars Again

PITTSBURGH -- Altoona (Pa.) High School's A.J. Alexander was among the first players to show up for registration at the Scout Combine Sunday at the UPMC Sports Complex, which isn't surprising since his blazing speed rarely leaves him trailing the pack.

Alexander consistently ran 4.3-second 40s and performed exceptionally in all the individual drills as well. That was to be expected, however, since he practically dominated the event a year ago to show scouts what fans of Alexander's Mountain Lions already knew. He was a special player.

"That's true,'' Alexander said. "Nobody knew me before the Scout Combine last year, but then I ran a couple 4.3s, and I was on everybody's website. I don't know exactly what that means, but I've gotten a lot of attention from different colleges since then. That's for sure.''

Alexander's performance at several combines, as well as a solid junior season, have him rated as a four-star athlete. He's being recruited primarily as a wide receiver, so he has a few more things to prove this year. And since he already has a lot of offers, Alexander has one other thing to achieve after this year's run on the combine trail.

"I'm just trying to get my fifth star,'' Alexander said. "That's mainly why I'm here this year. I guess you could say it's an ego thing, but I've just been working so hard I think I can get that fifth star. I'd also like to run under a 4.3. That's something I've been shooting for, but it's OK if I don't.

"Really, what I want to show people is that I'm not just a guy who does well at combines. I'm not just a fast runner. I'm a good football player, too. I can run and catch and block and do all the things I'll need to do to be successful at the next level. So, that's what I want to do this year.''

Alexander already has taken several visits. He spent a few days in Florida with visits to the University of Florida and Florida State. Alexander also said that he went to Georgia last year and Temple, which he really didn't like, as well as Rutgers. And, of course, he has been to the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State on numerous occasions.

Alexander said he loved the Florida trip, since he got to miss school and it was basically like a vacation. Plus, the weather was gorgeous while he was there. He's enjoyed his time at the other schools as well, but he has not yet narrowed his college choices from a field of about 40 offers.

"I really don't have a top five or anything like that,'' Alexander said. "I'm just trying to weigh all my options and make the best decision for me and my family. I think I'll wait until after the season to make my decision, but I probably won't announce until signing day or right before it.

"If I make the Army game, I might announce then. It depends. I talk to Tom Lemming a lot, and if I make that Army game I'll probably announce. But I'm looking at having a top five or six by the end of summer, so that's the next decision I have to make. I have to get my list to five or six top schools.''

Alexander noted that his mom, Jana, would support whatever decision he makes as long as she has no problem getting to the games.

"She's my biggest fan, for sure,'' Alexander said. "She laminates all my newspaper stories and everything. It was pretty crazy when all the letters and calls started after Sept. 1 last year, but she really keeps everything kind of balanced for me.

"I had a pretty good season last year, over a thousand yards rushing and 2,000 all-purpose yards, even though I only played seven games. I really want to stay healthy this year, so I can have an even bigger year. Plus, we have a lot of good kids coming back, so we should have a good team.''

And with Alexander leading the way, it's a good bet that Altoona will finish ahead of the pack as well.

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