Former Wyoming running back Alvester Alexander surprised Cowboy fans by declaring he was ready for the NFL at the end of his junior season. The 5-10, 208-pound game changer was one of the top ball carriers in the Mountain West. He finished his collegiate career with the seventh most rushing yards in Cowboys history.
Alexander was expected to play a significant role for Wyoming in 2012 but he felt that his athleticism and speed made him ready for the NFL. Yet Alexander wasn't drafted and signed with the Chicago Bears as an undrafted rookie.
Alexander talks about his decision to leave school early and how he feels about his current situation.
"It was a risky move to leave Wyoming for sure but it was a move I felt I had to make. Since I declared, I've never looked back or regretted anything. Draft weekend was difficult, as it tends to be for any player who doesn't get the call that weekend, but prior to the draft I'd had feelers from several NFL teams.
"When it came down to the final decision to go to Chicago, I was really happy. I've been a Bears fan for many years, which might sound strange since I played college ball in Wyoming and am from Houston, Texas originally, but that's the truth.
"When my family members got the news that I was coming here, they were beside themselves with excitement. At the time I was numb to all that. I was busy trying to organize things and get ready to leave for Chicago. But now that I'm here and have had a chance to settle in a bit, I'm really excited too.
"The first time I stepped on the field here at Halas Hall and saw all the guys on the team, people I'd only seen before on television, I was dazzled. Soon you realize they are players more or less like you are and it isn't quite as intimidating.
"What struck me immediately was how friendly and helpful everybody was. You feel comfortable right away,
"I have several friends who have gone to other teams in the league and from what I heard, their experience wasn't similar to mine at all. I think the Bears organization is unusual in the way it welcomes players and watches over them once we are here. I couldn't ask for a better situation.
"It's been busy being a rookie, as you can imagine. There is so little time to think and so much to absorb. I've always felt that one of my strengths was my ability to soak things up quickly and so far, at least that is what I've been able to do. I've had no problems learning the playbook and things on the field have gone very well, at least this far into my experience.
"I've been asked what I bring to the team. I think my speed and ability to find holes are my best assets. I've always been good running through traffic and avoiding defenders. I'm also very competitive and always want to improve myself so I can be better. I understand how rare this opportunity is. I've been playing football since I was 8 and I've always wanted to reach this level. It isn't something I am taking for granted.
"As far as what I need to work on right now, I'd say-everything. It's all new in a way. The pace is faster, the competition is much tougher. It's a whole new experience. What I am enjoying is having the time now to concentrate on football and only on football, as opposed to being in college where you also have classes and homework.
"But everything I do here is much more important. Football is no longer a hobby, something I just do for fun, it's my profession. I know it's my job to get out there and show the coaches I belong. The challenge is tremendous but up to this point in my life it's the most exciting thing I've ever done."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.