Monday, June 17, 2024

Wideout ready to 'release the beast'

Alexander strives to have breakout season

Then-sophomore wide receiver Aaron Alexander misses his catch when MSU played Penn State in November. Alexander said he is finally 100 percent healthy for next season.

Junior wideout Aaron Alexander has shown more of his talents than most MSU athletes.

He's been an up-and-coming quarterback, a surprise bench player for Tom Izzo and, most recently, one of the Spartans' most dangerous wide receivers.

But, he says, MSU fans still don't know the real Aaron Alexander.

"I got a whole other side of me, another drive that a lot of people haven't seen yet and I'm just waiting because I haven't really been healthy yet," he said.

"All my years here at State ? I haven't been healthy. I just want to show everybody what a 100 percent Aaron Alexander can do."

"I'm ready to let loose; I'm just ready to release the beast."

Alexander was third on the team last year in receptions with 44, despite playing with a cracked bone in his left foot all season and adjusting to a brand new position.

As a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman quarterback, Alexander broke his left foot and had surgery to repair it.

Going into last season, he was getting ready for two-a-day practices at his new position - wide receiver, which head coach John L. Smith suggested - when something felt wrong in his foot.

"I felt a tweak in the bone," he said. "Come to find out, I cracked it again. During the season I just played through it - played through a lot of pain."

Alexander had a second surgery in the off-season and sometimes wears a protective boot instead of a shoe because it's better for his foot. He has practiced sparingly this spring and said he isn't sure if he'll be ready for Saturday's Green-White Spring Scrimmage.

The most recent surgery will set Alexander back a bit, Smith said, but MSU's head coach isn't worried about him falling behind.

"Without a doubt, any time you're hurt, it's going to set you back," he said. "You're not going to improve to the degree that you'd like to, but I think he's going to fight through that."

Smith has good reason to believe Alexander will persist. When he asked Alexander to play wide receiver last year instead of quarterback, Alexander took the change in stride.

Alexander's production last season was another example of his perseverance.

As the season wore on and the pain in his left foot lingered, Alexander only got better. Of his 44 receptions, 22 of them came in the last four games of the Spartans' 13-game season.

Though he's missing some spring ball, Alexander said he's confident last season's late success will carry over to the fall.

"Whenever I get my hands on the ball, I'm trying to make sparks fly ? I'm going to try my best to put up huge numbers," he said.

When Alexander is in the lineup, however, he brings more to the team than touchdowns and receiving yards, Smith said.

"He's got great character that you really want to get on the field because he brings an excitement and an energy to us offensively that we really need," he said.

Alexander's character also makes him a leader on offense. There is a generous amount of experience throughout MSU's receiving corps, but that doesn't stop Alexander from getting on his teammates' case when the time is right.

"He's real vocal, for one," redshirt freshman receiver Terry Love said. "If somebody's lagging, he's going to let you know about it.

"He's vocal and then he can back it up. He's not going to tell you to catch the ball and then he's going to drop it."

This summer, Alexander will work on improving his speed and strength. He said he's anxious to get on the field and show fans what he's capable of.

"Wait and see, I got a lot to prove."

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