August 3, 2009

Countdown to kickoff: No.23 Ben Alexander

Name: Ben Alexander

Position: Defensive tackle

Classification: Senior

Prep credentials: The former South Carolina prep star was a three-star prospect (5.7) that was ranked as the nation's No.31 defensive tackle. He was also ranked No.12 in the Rivals South Carolina Top 25.

Click here to see Alexander's high school film

2008 stats: Alexander played in 10 games last season and recorded four tackles (three solo), a tackle for loss, 0.5 sacks, two quarterback pressures and a fumble recovery.

Career stats: In 24 career games, Alexander has accumulated 12 tackles, three tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.

Best game in 2008: Alexander registered a season-high two tackles and half of a sack in Texas' road win in Boulder.

Scouting Report: Alexander, who is listed very generously at six-foot and 300 pounds, will be asked to serve a role that he's probably not been prepared to play in previous seasons. As one of only a couple of defensive tackles on the roster that has actually played in a meaningful game, Alexander will have a chance to not only earn his first true taste of substantial playing time, but he's projected as a starter heading into the season. For his first three seasons in Austin, Alexander has struggled to find the right body mix for the style of play in the Big 12. As a freshman he came in overweight because he was trying to overcompensate for his lack of height and he did not make the immediate impact that Texas head coach Mack Brown had predicted. Over the course of the last two season, he's worked hard to find the might mix of size that will allow him to hold up at the point of attack, while not completely robbing him of his quickness and athleticism. As a high school player, Alexander's burst off the ball and initial first step were as quick as anyone Texas has recruited at the position, but it has not translated at the next level. At this stage of his development, Alexander is solid player against the run, but he's not a playmaker at by stretch. We know that at his very worst, Alexander can eat up a blocker or two and hold his position on the line, but we haven't seen him yet show the ability to get off of blocks and actually make a play or two.

The big hope… The light switch appears to have come on for Alexander, who the coaching staff gave a lot of praise this spring. After three years of very limited contributions, he emerges this season as a senior and provides the Longhorns will an able player at the point of attack, especially against the teams on the schedule that actually have a run play or two in the offense.

The big worry… Alexander has never been an impact player for the Longhorns and it's too much to expect he'll develop into that kind of player this season. Is he really improved or a byproduct of a defense that doesn't have any other defensive tackles on campus to talk about?

Did you know? Alexander has two dogs - Bevo and Hook'em.

NFL Scouting report:"I hope he's a smart guy because the odds are very stacked against him ever playing in the NFL," says one NFC scout.

The bottom line: It's tough not to have doubts about Alexander's potential contributions to the defense because he's been such a limited player since he arrived in 2006. That being said, he was the team's second-best defensive tackle during the spring and the coaches seem confident that he can handle a larger role. With the constant turnover at the position, the program really doesn't have many choices - Alexander has to be a good player this season or the team will likely be in some trouble at the position.

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