TULSA — Dominique Alexander could have said no.
He could have told his coaches and teammates that his college future was at safety, and that's where he needed to play — not on the defensive line.
But Alexander wants to win, and Tulsa Washington has other athletes to plug into secondary positions. The Hornets don't, however, have a lot of hard-hitting, ultrafast athletes to rush the quarterback or help contain the run game.
“To me, it was a question of, what are you gonna do to help your team win?” Alexander said. “We were thin at the defensive end position. You've got to humble yourself. It was the best position for me on the team, so it was an easy decision.”
Besides, Alexander did enough work in the offseason to make sure his college destination was set, verbally committing to Arkansas in mid-June.
New coach Marvin Dantzler had no hesitation in moving Alexander up front.
“First, he's a great athlete,” said Dantzler, who coached John Marshall to state track championships in 2010 and 2011. “He's very intelligent and has a football background. I want to get the best 11 players on the field. He's very unselfish, and our whole team has the attitude that if we win, we all benefit.”
Alexander got some experience at defensive end during spring practice, but that was a hectic time, thanks to recruiting.
“Coaches would come watch me at practice, and they'd want to see me play safety,” he said. “Then some were looking at me as a linebacker, so I'd have to do that. Then some wanted to see me at receiver. Then we'd go to our team drills and I'd be at defensive end.”
He has plenty of advice about how to play defensive end readily available. His father, Derrick Alexander Sr., played defensive end at Oklahoma State, and his older brother, Derrick Jr., is currently playing the position at Tulsa.
“They've had a lot of experience and were good at it, so I'm taking in everything they tell me, so I can be the best at the position I can be,” said the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Alexander. “I'm gonna try to use my speed and strength. The O-linemen will be big, but I'm strong enough to hold my own. And I'll try to use my speed to get back there and make plays.”
This season offers another challenge, with the Hornets moving up from Class 5A to 6A, where they will share a district with four-time defending champ Tulsa Union.
“People would always say that we could run 5A, but we wouldn't do that if we were 6A,” he said. “Now we get the chance to show them that we can play with those guys.
“I love competition, so I'm excited about moving up, because you've got to bring your best every single game.”
Alexander says he has wanted the chance to play at Arkansas since he started attending their games as a freshman.
“It just felt like the place I wanted to be,” he said. “I like the coaches, especially my position coach, Paul Haynes. He's sending people to the (National Football) League, so I really liked that. They have great tradition. It's close enough to home, and I'll have a chance to get a good degree.
“The fans are crazy. When they find out Arkansas wants you, they treat you like royalty. It's just a great feeling down there.”
No. 12: Dominique Alexander
School: Tulsa Washington
Weight: 195 pounds
Position: Defensive back
Committed to: Arkansas on June 19