By JAMES MORAN | Tiger Rag Associate Editor
LSU inside linebacker Donnie Alexander has one simplistic goal going into his senior season: he wants to show the world that the past three seasons don’t properly reflect his “real style of play.”
What that means, however, isn’t something the veteran half of LSU’s starting linebacker duo is ready to articulate quite yet.
Alexander says it’s not something that can be put into words, but you’ll know it when you see it — or when it hits you.
“I’m going to be laying a lot of smack down,” he smiled.
One thing will be quickly apparent: there’s a reason Alexander hasn’t received any pushback on insisting his teammates call him ‘Big Donnie’ these days.
Alexander, who was listed at 212 pounds last season, bulked up to 230 pounds over the summer while recovering from torn rotator cuff surgery underwent during the spring.
Putting on the weight wasn’t actually all that difficult. Laid up in bed post-surgery, Alexander ate shakes and plenty of food during a two-month recovery process.
Though his practice reps are being managed — a decision that’s part precautionary, part an effort to get a trio of blue chip freshmen ready to contribute — Alexander arrived at camp in shape thanks to a leg-work-heavy workout plan devised by LSU strength guru Tommy Moffitt.
“It still feels the same,” Alexander said of the added bulk. “Now I know I won’t get pushed back, people won’t be able to push me around. That just boosts my confidence up more.”
Alexander’s trademark speed is no worse for wear either. By all accounts, Alexander has been flying around like normal while putting that extra muscle to good use on the football field.
“He’s still fast. He’s not faster than me — he thinks he is — but he’s still fast,” Devin White said. “He doesn’t hit harder than me. I don’t think he’ll ever hit harder than me. But I want him to hit as hard as me.”
White recalled a play from LSU’s third preseason game. The offense was running a counter, and Alexander came up the middle and spilled two blockers, knocking both backward.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda shared an even more impressive anecdote. LSU’s front seven was filling gaps against a straight-ahead run, and Alexander stonewalled left guard Garrett Brumfield with his hands and knocked him backward.
“Donnie usually goes in with his shoulder, so when he did that, Coach was happy,” White said. “You could tell he had been working on it. It was a big jump in our room. That’s a starter, so you know it was good to see Donnie do that.”
There’s a deeper significance to the adulation.
Alexander’s shoulder injury, which dated back to his high school days at Edna Karr, got aggravated whenever he hit with his shoulder pads instead of his arms. And since he was undersized, that meant most of his collegiate tackles.
Normally that meant dealing with an intermittent burning sensation or tired feeling in the joint, but the shoulder bothered Alexander more last season when he took on a greater role later in the season. That’s why this offseason was time to get it fixed.
“I feel good right now,” Alexander said. “I’m ready.”