Derrick Alexander, DE, 1991-1994
Inducted into the Florida State University Hall of Fame in 2007
Derrick Alexander's reputation takes a fairly big knock because of his pro career. Coming out of Florida State as more of a 3-4 defensive end, Alexander was selected ahead of names like Warren Sapp and Hugh Douglas along the defensive line in the 1995 NFL Draft. The Minnesota Vikings took him 11th overall, he lasted just three seasons in Minneapolis before spending 1999 in Cleveland and hanging up his cleats.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's look at what Alexander represented to Florida State.
A Jacksonville native, Alexander arrived in Tallahassee in 1991 and redshirted, then over the course of the next three seasons he was as dominant a player on the defensive line as you could find in the entire country. Alexander's sack numbers were never elite. Bbeliecause of the defenses he played on and what he was asked to do he isn't mentioned amongst the greatest Florida State sack artists of all time.
But that's a numbers game, it belies the ability Alexander had to both get after the passer and play on the other side of the line of scrimmage against the run. After notching three sacks and 38 tackles in ten games as a reserve during his redshirt freshman season, Alexander exploded onto the scene on FSU's national title team in 1993.
From his spot at end Alexander notched five sacks but also finished second on the team in tackles with 100. In the National Championship game Alexander victimized the Nebraska Cornhusker offense to the tune of a game-leading 11 tackles. He was named to four All-American teams following that season and started 1994 on virtually every watch list in existence.
The following year Alexander built on his sophomore performance by being named the ACC Defensive player of the year, getting selected to seven All-American squads and being picked 11th overall in the NFL draft after leaving a season early.
Had his NFL career developed more as he and the Vikings undoubtedly hoped it would, he would likely be even higher on this list.
As it stands, Alexander was neck and neck with another defensive tackle who just edged ahead of him in the final rankings. As I've said several times on this countdown though, when it comes to Florida State defensive linemen it was a very crowded group. Alexander's legacy is different than a lot of the more conventional pass-rushers that were considered because of the defense he played on and what he was asked to do.
While Alexander is definitely not the best pass-rushing defensive linemen to have come through Florida State you could make a case for him being one of the best run-stoppers, even one of the best all-around.
If you have any doubts about his inclusion though, go back and pop in some highlights of the defense on that 1993 Florida State national title team. Take a look at what Derrick Alexander was doing to opposing offensive linemen on the regular.
That's why Derrick Alexander is one of the 25 greatest Seminoles of all-time.
Join us tomorrow when we reveal number 20 on the countdown...
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