The odds finally catch up with Warriors' Alexander


POSTED: Saturday, October 03, 2009

The first time I saw Greg Alexander, my thought was that he'd never play a down at quarterback for the University of Hawaii.

Offensive guard or defensive tackle? Maybe.

Oh, he could throw the ball. Hard.

But he looked more like a 30-year-old bouncer than an aspiring Division I college quarterback. He looked like a former quarterback (which is what I thought he was).

This was at UH's grass practice field, in the spring of 2008. He and Brent Rausch, a couple of days off of jets from California, worked out for the first time with the Warriors receivers.

A relaxed Rausch was skinny and threw with incredible accuracy.

A nervous Alexander was heavy and threw with incredible velocity. Wall-breaking velocity.

Touch on his passes? None.

FIRST DAY of fall camp, 2008.

I couldn't find him, “;Hey man, where's Alexander?”; Jason Kaneshiro pointed to a fit and strong-looking stud. “;That's not him,”; I said. But it was. The guy I thought was majoring in pre-security had worked his butt off, as well as his gut. And he didn't throw every pass like it was coming out of a 90 mph pitching machine anymore. His ball was now catchable. He had worked hard on his footwork.

He eventually won the quarterback job for the start of the season, The Man Who Would Replace Colt Brennan.

But after his first game as a Warrior, I thought the same thing as that first time I saw him—this guy is done. He had overthrown a wide-open Aaron Bain on a play that would've been the first touchdown of the season in The Swamp, against Florida.

When he was benched, Alexander vowed to watch and learn.

That's what they all say ... this man actually did it.

WHEN CALLED upon again, he was ready. Alexander's understanding of the run-and-shoot had become much better through mental reps. He was good enough to win some games and to go more than a hundred passes without an interception. He was also tough, absorbing an ungodly number of sacks and running for first-down yardage time and again.

And now, this season, a fine start. He led the Warriors to victories in their first two games with his right arm and his legs. He led the nation in total offense.

We've always admired him for taking our questions head-on, after a great practice or a terrible one, following a win or a loss. He's never minced words, even some we can't print.

Alexander's a stand-up, no-BS guy on the field, too, taking contact for a few more yards rather than going down easy or running out of bounds. It's dangerous, but it helped the Warriors win games.

As many of us feared, his gutsy style would eventually cost him. That hit he took on Wednesday night—though clean, according to Alexander—was as bad or even worse than it looked. He'll need a year to rehab from the surgery. Barring a medical miracle or unprecedented action by the NCAA, his college football career is over.

Greg Alexander proved me wrong about his future as a UH quarterback twice.

I wish he could this time, too.