Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander will have every reason to party sometime Saturday after he's selected in the NFL Draft.
But it was a party four years ago, hours after making his OU debut that nearly derailed his dream.
Fortunate that he didn't suffer a career-threatening injury hours after the Sooners routed Tennessee-Chattanooga on Aug. 30, 2008, Alexander was stabbed in his right arm.
“Another inch and I wouldn't have been able to play football anymore,” Alexander said four years ago.
Details are sketchy what happened. According to police reports, several non-OU students tried to crash a party. When entry was denied, they attacked with knifes and tire irons and threw bricks.
Alexander was dancing with a girl when an intruder smashed him over the head with a bottle. Alexander didn't notice he had been stabbed. As he was leaving the party after the melee, a teammate told him his arm was bleeding profusely. His muscle was “hanging out, flapping.”
That's why Alexander, who didn't hear his named called during rounds 2 and 3 Friday night, has a different perspective than many players.
“I had a rough first year, but I've hung in there despite a lot of things happening,” Alexander said. “You'd like to go in the second or third round, but I'll get an opportunity no matter what round it is. That's all you want, is an opportunity.”
Alexander closed a roller coaster OU career with a monster senior season. He was named The Associated Press Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (19).
But there were times some wondered if the Baton Rouge, La., product would ever reach his potential.
“I know my career at times has been on the shaky side,” Alexander said. “My freshman year, I had that altercation off the field. Then I played behind two great players. But I always had confidence I could play at a high level if given a chance and was healthy.”
Alexander, 6-foot-4, 271 pounds, was named freshman All-American despite missing five games due to the stabbing injury. He had a bright future. But his two middle seasons produced mixed results.
His sophomore year, Alexander played behind Auston English and Jeremy Beal, both now in the NFL.
Alexander's junior year was his turn to finally start, but he was hampered by a high ankle sprain suffered during two-a-days and a strained Achilles.
As a senior, he was dominant. Alexander batted down six passes, recorded 54 tackles and an interception.
“It was the first time in a while I played without a major injury other than the (sprained) shoulder late in the year,” Alexander said. “I just have to keep pushing and show the team that takes me that they made a good choice.”
Alexander's story took another unexpected twist when, despite his protests, he was instructed to sit out NFL combine workouts after doctors detected a heart condition.
After undergoing a series of tests, it was revealed two weeks later that he didn't have a hole in his heart as initially believed. He's fine. Ready to go.
But there are questions about his NFL potential. Often times he plays “too tall.” He must improve shedding run blocks, improve his pad level and play with lower leverage.
“NFL people have told me they'll work with me when I get there,” Alexander said. “It's little stuff, but that's basically true for every player. Even guys in the first rounds have areas they must improve.”
Alexander and his girlfriend, Tiona Bowman, a Tulsan he met at OU, will get a condo in the city where he begins his NFL career.
“I'm blessed God has put me in this position,” Alexander said. “Not a lot people get to experience this. I have all the confidence in the world that I can do this, that I can play at the next level. I can't wait to find out which team picks me.”