STILLWATER – It took but one preseason for Alex Elkins to sell himself as a starter to Oklahoma State's coaches.
His pitch wasn't technique or savvy or smarts; none of those were at all apparent for the player with just two years of junior college play in his football background.
“The best thing about Alex is his effort,” said Cowboys defensive coordinator Bill Young.
Unharnessed, unrelenting effort.
And that's what Young saw in the video review of OSU's 2011 opener against Louisiana-Lafayette, Elkins' debut as a Cowboy and his first major-college start, providing confirmation to Young and his staff.
“On Sundays, we pick out the effort plays,” Young said. “We only showed three to the team and two of them were him. The first game he played in, he's flying around, running through people, making plays 25 yards down the field.
“He's just a tremendous competitor.”
Elkins started 12 of OSU's 13 games at linebacker, finishing second on the team with 90 total tackles.
Not bad for a guy who for a while was playing on sheer instincts.
“He would run really fast to the ball,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. “And he likes to play the game, so he could overcome a lot of mistakes.
“I'd say the last four or five games he started getting lined up where he was supposed to and understanding reads and certain things that guys in that position have to see to play effectively.”
It was effort that earned the raw Elkins a walk-on roster spot at Blinn College. And it was effort that struck Young and linebackers coach Glenn Spencer on a recruiting trip to Texas, as Elkins charged recklessly downfield on the opening kickoff.
ALEX ELKINS' CAMPAIGN SLOGAN
“Reason To Believe”
Cowboys linebacker Alex Elkins had no football experience when he tried out for the junior college squad at Blinn College – and made it. He had no major college experience when he joined OSU a year ago – and started 12 of 13 games. His reasoning for such successes: “Heart.” And it's heart, he insists, that will lead to even greater things.
ALEX ELKINS ENDORSEMENTS
* Cowboys linebackers coach Glenn Spencer: “The biggest thing I look at is not the measurables. Alex is a big part of what we do on defense because of what's inside of him – his heart. My guys will tell you this is what I'm all about. He's going to be in it for the unit, not himself. And that's very rare this day and time. and that's why we're going to have a chance to be pretty good.”
* Cowboys Offensive coordinator Todd Monken: “Alex overcomes (inexperience) with being a really explosive athlete. What he lacks maybe in terms of awareness of playing the game, he makes up for with the ability to chase and strike. The guys that can do that, can run and strike, can make plays that way, you make up for a lot of little missteps.”
* Cowboys offensive lineman Jonathan Rush: “Whenever he's out on the field, he plays with a reckless abandon. He has a great drive and a great passion for the game. I really look up to him in that. I'm kind of envious.”