In our twelfth installment in this series, we were able to catch up with former Alabama offensive guard Dennis Alexander. To get the complete interview, click here:
If you were to take a poll of the most diehard Alabama fan and ask them which team they hated more between Auburn and Tennessee, you may get varying responses depending on which generation they came from. Alabama versus Tennessee may not receive the national attention as the Iron Bowl, but the Third Saturday in October is a game that raises the blood pressure levels on both sides of the state line and a victory stogie may very well be the sweetest taste of tobacco consumed that year for the winning team and their fans.
For Dennis Alexander, he understood the hatred, and the possible ramifications for doing the unthinkable in crossing over the Tennessee border to the team General Robert Neyland despised as much as any other and rolling with the Alabama Crimson Tide. For Alexander, the passion was too much to ignore and while he had love and respect for the Volunteers, something about the crimson and white jersey was enough to lure him from his home state and start a new journey and tradition of his own.
As a highly touted incoming freshman, Alexander was able to earn early playing time blocking for one of the greatest running backs in Alabama history in Shaun Alexander. According to Alexander, “We joked all the time, we would call each other cuz (cousin), even though we’re not related. He is a great guy with a big heart who would do anything for you. He ran the ball like it was supposed to be ran…It was a great honor blocking for a guy like that.”
While Alexander enjoyed early success as a starter, things turned quickly as the man who recruited him in Coach Mike Dubose, was fired after a 3-8 season in 2000. Having to adjust to a new offense brought in by Coach Dennis Franchione, Alexander understood he had to make some changes in order to regain his starting status.
Like most competitors, Alexander fought hard to do what it took to earn the trust and respect of his new coaching staff by dropping weight and ultimately regained his starting position his senior year. Alexander’s play that year was good enough to catch the attention of his home state’s NFL franchise in the Tennessee Titans who signed him as a free agent. While Alexander was on and off of the practice squad, things seemed to be looking up as the following year he was set to enhance his skills for NFL Europe when what would be a career-ending knee injury sustained that summer would not allow him to see what could have been.
One of the worst things an athlete can hear is they will never be able to play the game they love again due to injury. However, for Alexander, he dusted himself off and realized if he couldn’t play the game anymore — what better way than to stay involved than to coach. And that’s what he did.
Since 2008, Alexander has been shaping the lives of young men seeking to make a better life for themselves through athletics, and he’s having a blast doing so. One of his most rewarding achievements was helping to turn around a Bessemer City High School football team trying to regain its luster after longtime head coach Billy Woodham was let go. Alexander, who admittedly struggled his first two years learning the ropes and instilling belief in his young players, managed to have a winning record in year three going 6-4.
Now, Alexander has made East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi his home where he is the offensive line coach. While he would love the opportunity to advance in the coaching ranks, he’s in no rush to do so and is loving where he is right now. When asked about coaching specifically, Alexander had this to say, “It’s a pleasure. I don’t feel like I’m working, I feel like I’m just living, and enjoying it…I just love the game. I love to see how it affects men and helps men grow. That s why I love it.” Many people go years in life searching for a career that brings them peace and a passion to do it daily.
I’d say Dennis is well ahead of the game.