EXCLUSIVE:Â Mark Dantonio HisÂ 7th Solid Member to the 2015 Recruiting Class in DE Justice Alexander and He's "Thrilled," to be a Spartan!
Mark Dantonio has made a living on finding hidden gems on the recruiting trail. The veteran head coach has repeatedly transformed little-known recruits into stars during his eight-year tenure at Michigan State.
Justice Alexander is the latest to be discovered by Dantonio. The Macedonia, Ohio native is a promising, raw recruit with outstanding quickness and speed for a 6â€™6 defensive end. A well-rounded young man with a passion for the classroom and the community, Alexander has the potential to be a true Spartan.
The class of 2015 recruit recently spoke with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio, discussing a variety of topics.
Before Michigan Stateâ€™s summer camp on June 1, Justice Alexander held a handful of offers from MAC schools. The late-blooming defensive end had not received much interest from big-time programs.
That all changed when the Spartan coaching staff saw Alexander play. Dantonio extended a scholarship offer to Alexander two days later.
â€œIt meant so much to me. I was overwhelmed with excitement when I got the news,â€ Alexander said. â€œIt made me want to work out more, to push myself even more. I canâ€™t even explain it.
â€œI didnâ€™t think I was going to get recruited like this, I was surprised at everything. I enjoyed it all.â€
Within three weeks, other schools were pounding on Alexanderâ€™s door, knowing that Dantonio consistently finds under-hyped recruits. Pitt and Tennessee each offered Alexander, while Ohio State also showed interest.
It was too late. Alexander had fallen in love with the Green and White. He officially committed on June 21.
Alexander explained how it happened so quickly.
â€œMy parents and I were talking about it for a while. They said, â€˜You donâ€™t have to make a decision right now. But I said, â€˜These are big schools, theyâ€™re going to fill up. So we have to think about what would be the best decision for me.â€™ Michigan State, all-around, fit me. I felt comfortable, I liked what was going on,â€ Alexander said. â€œThat Sunday, at 11:48 a.m., I called Coach Dantonio. He said, â€˜Hey Justice, how are you doing?â€™ I said, â€˜Iâ€™m doing really good. I want to be a Spartan.â€™
â€œHe was a little bit surprised because he didnâ€™t think I was going to commit right then because I said [before] I was going to do it after the season. He said, â€˜Are you sure? Nobody is pressuring you.â€™ I said, â€˜No, this is where I want to go. This is it.â€™â€
MSU wasnâ€™t Alexanderâ€™s dream school until the very end of the process. Another well-known school held that honor for a long time.
â€œI just always wanted to go to Harvard when I was a kid,â€ Alexander said. â€œBut then I found out all this other stuff about Harvard you have to get. So I said, maybe Harvardâ€™s not the place right now for football or basketball.â€
Alexanderâ€™s new attachment to Michigan State mirrors his new love for football. The youngster has only been playing for a couple of years. He also played basketball until last season.
Asked what he loves about football, Alexander responded: â€œEverything. Whatâ€™s there not to fall in love with?â€
While he doesnâ€™t have much experience, Alexander has plenty of talent. The 6â€™6, 235 pound prospect forces other teams to use two blockers to prevent him from blowing up plays with his outstanding quickness.
â€œBasketball helped me a lot with speed after I got used to running up and down the court,â€ Alexander said.
Coaches admire Alexanderâ€™s potential, but they also love how he is coachable. The rising senior at Nordonia High School has a great passion for the game.
â€œIâ€™ll never be satisfied with what I can do and canâ€™t do,â€ he said.
Alexanderâ€™s tireless work ethic translates to the classroom, too. He values academics just as much as athletics.
â€œI love football and I always will. But someday, itâ€™s going to end, and I wonâ€™t be able to fall back on it,â€ he said. â€œSo I want a degree.â€
Alexander already has an idea of his post-football career, unlike many of his peers.
He hopes to be either an IT analyst or a nurse.
â€œI always loved computers as a kid, I still do. I love to play with them and see what makes them tick,â€ Alexander said. â€œWith nursing, my mom is a nurse, so I like what she did. I came to work with her one time to see what she did and I started liking it a lot. I made my decision about nursing, too.â€
Alexanderâ€™s success thus far can be attributed, in part, to his parents. This talented student-athlete has been blessed with a great support system at home.
â€œI have a great dad, whoâ€™s always in my corner,â€ Alexander said. â€œWith sports, he was there for me. My mom helped me through academics, anything. She was there, she always had a plan. I could always rely on both of them. And my little sister is my #1 fan. So I feel like I had everything I needed.
â€œ[My parents] taught me how to be a good person. They said, â€˜Talent will get you there, but character will keep you there.â€™ Weâ€™ll see if my character will keep me there.â€
In the meantime, Alexander canâ€™t wait to get to East Lansing. The Spartan Nation will be ready to welcome him with open arms. Being a Spartan means the world to him.
â€œIâ€™m able to play football in college, get my degree, and be close to my family so they can get to see me play,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s an amazing feeling all around.â€