Michigan State recruiting: Welcome Aboard- Justice Alexander

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

Sports Writer Bravely Avoids Easy Pun Opportunities.

Defensive End Justice Alexander

From:

Macedonia, OH (Nordonia)

Height/Weight

between 6'4'' and 6'6'', and 230 and 245 pounds.

Ratings

24/7 Sports- 3*, #35 WDE; Rivals- 2*; currently unranked by the other two services

Notable Offers

Pitt, Tennessee, Ohio, Toledo, Bowling Green, Miami (OH)

Thoughts on Offer List

So, an interesting thing happened about 3 weeks ago. Alexander, a recruit with a host of offers from MAC programs, particularly those in his native Ohio, showed up to a Spartan football camp. He departed with an MSU offer. A week later, he attended a Pitt camp., and also left there with an offer. A week and a half later, he received an offer from Tennessee, then on June 21st he camped at Ohio State. Ohio State declined to offer, and Alexander quickly committed to the Spartans.

What happened? Well, first off, it appears Alexander had a late growth spurt to jump up a couple of inches to an imposing 6'6''. And maybe your school has a coaching staff that likes tall defensive linemen, but they don't like tall defensive linemen as much as MSU likes tall defensive linemen.

Height means two things on the defensive line. More frame to safely pack weight on, and a higher propensity for go-go-gadget arms. Past impact players like Gholston, Hoover, and Reynolds; and current hopefuls like Heath, Cooper, and McDowell all check in at at least 6'5. These bigger bodies and longer arms mean that the player can not only hold up better in the run game, but can also better disrupt passing lanes at the line of scrimmage, and attack offensive linemen before they can attack them.

It also seems he very much impressed at MSU's early June camp. Consider: MSU offered four players based off of that camp. Three of them, Tre Tipton, Nick Coleman, and Nick Conner were quickly pressed for their commitments by Pitt, Notre Dame, and Ohio State respectively. The fourth player was Alexander.

Thoughts on Film

via Hudl

I'll admit, my first watch through this highlight tape didn't really seem to reveal anything too eye-popping (except for the play at 1:50 where he forces the cutback then chases the guy down 50 yards down-field. That was sweet even on the first watch). Not that it was bad, just that he wasn't blowing around people off the snap or hurling offensive linemen around or anything. But players can get better even late in their high school career,  so I figured he showed something at those camps that he didn't show in his junior year tape.

Then, I  thought about it for a second, and was like, "Well, his camp reps would be one-on-one, and this tape..." and I watched it again, and sure enough, Alexander is facing an absolute onslaught on double (and triple) teams, or is otherwise being optioned off of. On those few plays when he does get  straight-up single blocked, the results are not pretty for opposing offenses. The puzzle pieces fell into place.

He seems to be a power-rusher right now, but even with a relatively limited repertoire of rush moves, it's hard not to be impressed with how hard he works against these multiple blockers. Opposing offenses are making it as hard as possible for him to make an impact and he's battling his way through it, and making a difference anyways. In a defense where other players could attract attention, and where he gets some high-level technique work, it's easy to picture him as the latest link in a line of 6'6'' defensive linemen clicking into the Spartan's DL.

There's always room for big, hustling, defensive linemen. Always.

Reflections on the Rest of the Class

Alexander is the 7th commitment in MSU's 2015 recruiting class and the first DL commit.  It seems very likely that MSU takes at least one more defensive end, either someone who is close to 300 pounds as a HS senior, or a quicker speed-rusher type. MSU is probably a little bit under halfway finished with this recruiting class, which is unlikely to be more than 20 players.

Good to see players rocking the green and white in high school sticking with the only colors. Congrats Justice, and welcome to MSU!

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