Bear Alexander: When you know this 5-star’s story, you’ll be proud of him
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry is about all things Bear Alexander as Texas 5-star junior DT Keithian “Bear” Alexander is set to make his decision on the National Signing Day for the 2021 class on Feb. 3.
His government name is Keithian Alexander, but everyone calls him “Big Bear” Alexander.
He will answer to “Bear” as well. He is also growing fond of seeing or hearing the phrase “Texas state champion DT” connected to his name.
The 6-foot-3, 325-pound junior is rated as a 5-star on Rivals.com. That makes him the nation’s No. 5 overall prospect for that service. Alexander is the nation’s No. 9 DT and the No. 140 overall prospect for 2022 on the 247Sports Composite.
“Big Bear” had been a top 10 target for DawgNation in the next cycle since its weekly “Before the Hedges” program began assessing the most important UGA targets for 2022 in the first week of January.
Alexander was in Georgia this past weekend. Visiting on some family business. After the trip, he dropped this announcement on his Twitter timeline.
— THE BIG BEAR (@BearAlexander_) January 31, 2021
As the recruiting industry is hard-wired to do, it provided its responses. A rash of predictions came about on the popular 247Sports and Rivals platforms.
Those make it seem possible there is a chance to see “5-star Georgia Bulldog commit” as a way to describe Alexander, too.
Can that happen? It would take some black belt recruiting to pull a 5-star gem out of Texas 11 months in advance. He plans to enroll early in January of 2022.
DawgNation spoke to Alexander last October and November regarding his story and his thoughts on UGA. He was already quite fond of the Bulldogs and that coaching staff in Athens.
He said then he wanted to take as long as he possibly could to make a commitment during his process.
These high-pressure recruiting decisions are wildly unpredictable and yet also at the same time a beautiful mess. It is because of their captivating unpredictability.
As these things are prone to do, Alexander reversed course on being a last-minute college commitment at an All-American Game.
“With the window being so short literally 11 months [I] just decided to shut it down early and find a home,” Alexander told DawgNation this week.
His recruiting story will be in the spotlight tomorrow. Does he stay home and play for one of those impressive flagship Texas schools? Alabama? Oklahoma? Or is there a chance he becomes a Bulldog?
It will be fun to watch unfold.
But as we are prone to do with this space, we are also charged with sharing a major UGA target’s best story. That always comes before any college decision.
Bear Alexander: The first things to know here
Let’s start with a tweet. It is a more revealing tweet than his commitment date announcement.
Or the ones which will follow tomorrow for one very fortunate football program.
If you knew my story you’ll be proud of me !
— THE BIG BEAR (@BearAlexander_) October 21, 2020
Those words are his own.
“Just knowing it wasn’t easy,” Alexander said of why he tweeted that back in November. “Like around my freshman year my cousin got killed. Then my brother ended up having like – what is it called – a relapse off drugs. They put him in a mental home and that affected me like a lot through school.”
“But I was able to keep pushing and my father, he was just able to keep me grounded and I ended up moving in with him. Then and just my mother is always working hard to make sure we had the best of the best of the best. I feel like those things are a big factor in my story.”
There are a couple of high school transfers to note here. He moved from Terrell High to Skyline High to Denton High and wasn’t ruled eligible this school year until November.
“Denton is now my permanent home and I love every second of it,” he said in November. “I love it, but all of that and dealing with the UIL [The Texas high school governing body] and my entire story as a whole has been heartbreaking.”
He sat out most of his junior year, but with his eligibility restored he was a game-changing DL on an eventual 5A Texas state championship team.
“It makes me think about all the countless hours and time we put into this grind,” Alexander said this week. “Then to have an opportunity to do it all over again for the people I love. There was not any better feeling.”
The tough stuff. The hard stuff. Then the good stuff. That’s the arc his life is tracing across his high school years.
“You know I don’t blame the dynamics of my family,” Alexander said. “I blame the devil. I know he’s after me, but I know it is me. I know he is after me. So I don’t say ‘Why me?’ I was just always mentally prepared for the worst and I know the devil is after me even when I was so mentally prepared. So he attacked the ones I love the most if that makes sense.”
“It is not those people. I don’t blame them. I blame the devil. Because I know he wants a piece of me and he knows if he affects those and those I love the most it is going to affect me. But so far, it has done nothing but strengthen me and keep me motivated and well-grounded.”
Bear Alexander: When Tony Jones saw his great potential
His life was stabilized when he met Tony Jones. Jones saw him when he was in middle school. He saw the potential in Alexander at a time where he could not see it. He took him in.
Jones, a local football coach, had been everything. Mentor. Father figure. He will often refer to him as “son” in his social media posts. He accepted a teaching position at Ryan.
His Twitter handle is @Maka_difference and this one picture says a lot about his heart.
Anything for these smiles…. pic.twitter.com/wZ5jELgoBa
— Tony Jones (@maka_difference) November 30, 2020
“Just very very blessed,” Alexander said of that relationship.
“You’ve got to think,” he told Sam Spiegelman of Rivals.com. “I was a kid that wasn’t interested in football. It wasn’t the past I was gonna take. My life was going downhill and he recognized that. He saw the potential and thought, ‘I could be special if someone believed in him,'” Alexander recalled. “I met him around my seventh-grade year and he was able to fix me, patch me up and he asked me if I wanted to be a grown-up or a kid. I wanted to be a kid and we’ve forged a father-son relationship since. He’s always been a friend of the family and looked out for what’s best for me.”
He took Alexander from the horrible “traps” in his environment. Jones gave him love, stability and a place to grow.
It has meant everything here. Jones has made that difference his Twitter name points to.
Bear Alexander: The next things to understand here
Alexander’s story can be told with just a series of his powerful tweets. It really could.
Why I’m humble to enough to appreciate the growth and acknowledgment, but still hungry enough to not be satisfied till we on top. #5 player in the country but #1 team in the country and state champion has a much nicer ring to it #roadtostate #therankingscool #statechamps #ONE pic.twitter.com/kt6QPCcNJH
— THE BIG BEAR (@BearAlexander_) December 7, 2020
Why does he summon up what seems like endless reserves of energy to dominate playoff games? Where does a 320-pound high school kid find that?
“It is just the environment that I come from,” Alexander said. “You know it is easy to be influenced and fall into the trap of the people that surround you. But just my family.”
Family pretty much covers it. But it is also fun being that “Big Bear” that mauls Class 5A Texas playoff offensive lines.
“Just being to be able to put my hands on somebody in a game legally is just a blessing,” he said. “But that’s not as important as where I come from. That’s what motivates me the most. Where I come from.”
He will be the first member of his family to play college football.
“It means a lot,” he said. “Just being able to have these opportunities is all I could ever ask for.”
He’d like to in some way serve as an inspiration to his family.
“I sure hope so,” Alexander said back in November. “I just tell them to hang in there. Try to practice good habits. I understand the bad ones will come along. But just hang in there until I’m able to achieve what I am destined to achieve.”
Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 interviews with Jake Fromm, Gunner Stockton and Brock Vandagriff. You will only be able to find it on the DawgNation YouTube channel.
Where does the “Big Bear” nickname come from?
Alexander is not quite at the 6-foot-4 mark in height. He’s maybe a half-inch shy of that status. He weighs right at 315-320 pounds.
That “Big Bear” nickname was given to him right after birth. He just looked like he had the face, and later the football game, of a large grizzly.
“I think they gave me that name before I was even talking,” Alexander said.
He said it was because of a few things.
“My aggression and then my facial features and expressions,” he said. “They always have said I darn near look like a bear.”
That is not an embellishment. He started shaving when he was in the seventh grade.
“I started growing a beard in my seventh-grade year and all the teachers and the principal began to notice,” Alexander said. “They were like ‘Man, this is a grown man’ and they would take me in the restroom and here goes. My principal would give me a razor and some shaving cream.”
It didn’t last. His principal quickly realized it was better for a “Big Bear” to shave in his office. Alexander was around 6-foot-1 and about 305 pounds then. Seventh grade. Already shaving.
His favorite class is Math. He calls himself an ‘all As and Bs’ student and even posts proof of that on his social media. He wants to be a coach himself one day.
“That’s why I challenge myself in the classroom the most,” Alexander said. “I do everything based on that school book and that school bus. If you don’t have that school knowledge and know-how to challenge yourself and listen in the classroom, then you are basically nothing. You are going to be nothing without school.”
Alexander wants to wear the number zero in college. Probably for his senior year, too.
Bear Alexander: Why UGA could have a good chance here
Alexander camped at UGA in the summer of 2019. He was already a rising recruit. He was quickly elevated to the top tier D-line group with the 2020 recruits.
All this hard work gone pay off soon … pic.twitter.com/TT6yWcouPw
— THE BIG BEAR (@BearAlexander_) June 15, 2019
Every school in the country wants Alexander. He has that raw physical ability and motor where he will play as a true freshman in the fall of 2022.
“I will find a way to come in early and get a hang of my books and what I need to know about the defense,” Alexander said. “Just by working hard with the guys wherever I go. I will find a way to be playing just based on my story and what I have to do with this opportunity in college and just off my athletic ability.”
He’s a run stopper. He claws through pockets. Alexander can be a true zero-tech or a “3” or “5” technique. See Jordan Davis. He will chase down the football and go east and west.
“There are just some things you cannot teach,” Alexander said. “That’s what the college coaches tell me. I have it, they say. But I’m always open-minded and willing to listen. They like my game, my well-being and what I am both on and off the field.”
Georgia’s Dan Lanning made a deep impression.
“I love that defensive coordinator,” Alexander said in November. “The way he’s able to identify defensive tackles and recruit them and get them on campus. He’s got the kid Nazir [Stackhouse] and he got the kid out of IMG Academy [Warren Brinson] and they are developing their guys with Tray Scott. Tray Scottt is able to develop his players and get the best out of them as well. I feel like that staff is doing great things.”
“Especially with Kirby [Smart] running the place.”
What does he think of the Georgia head coach?
“Well, coach Smart is just smart,” he continued on. “He texts me all the time. Happy Birthday. What’s going on Big Dawg? It is game week. Let me get my popcorn ready. He’s always asking for practice footage to see how my body is developing. I feel like I am a big factor for that program.”
What did he like best about Georgia back then?
“The defense,” he said. “The consistency in going out there every week and getting after it and getting better. You can tell how well-coached they are on the field improving each week.”
What is he looking for in a school?
“Whoever can develop their players and compete and just win on the field,” Alexander said. “Just get the best out of their guys on and off the field and who cares about you in your life after football, too.”
Check out some key tweets and evaluations of his play here. It is impressive watching him take up residence in the backfield against some very well-coached teams. Most schools simply had no answers.
— THE BIG BEAR (@BearAlexander_) January 30, 2021
— THE BIG BEAR (@BearAlexander_) January 18, 2021
Get you a 🐻 like @BearAlexander_ in the middle of your defense
— Rivals (@Rivals) January 16, 2021
— Matt Stepp (@Matt_Stepp817) January 16, 2021
— Mike Roach (@MikeRoach247) January 16, 2021
Bear Alexander is one of the best dlinemen i have ever seen play at the high school level.
— Coach Fonville (@CoachFonville) January 16, 2021
Bear Alexander with a ton of pressure up the gut. Active hands results in a multitude of passes swatted down at the line. He’s been active all evening
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) January 16, 2021
Denton Ryan DT Bear Alexander, the transfer from Terrell via Dallas Skyline, is a big problem for Mansfield Summit tonight…#TXHSFB
— Greg Tepper (@Tepper) January 9, 2021
— Jason Howell (@Jason_Howell) January 1, 2021
Denton Ryan’s @BearAlexander_ is collapsing the pocket. Literally.
— Justin Wells (@justinwells2424) January 1, 2021
Man I just came across a full game of @BearAlexander_ playing. Not a highlight , but a full game. Sheeeesh. Buddy is a grown man out there !!!
— Bj Taylor (@Saaap256) December 27, 2020
— Walker Lott (@walker_lott) December 26, 2020
He shut down the inside run game for Longview most of the game. The passion this kid plays with and the athleticism at his size is why he’s one of the top prospects in Texas in 2022. pic.twitter.com/QkuIs8rO8A
— Walker Lott (@walker_lott) December 26, 2020
— Bryan Thomas Miller (Coach Miller) (@CTECoachMiller) December 26, 2020
Hard to run the ball right now for Longview. @BearAlexander_ seems to be on every play.
— Danny (@coachdwes) December 26, 2020
Bear Alexander just ate Roderick Brown. #txhsfb
— Steve Gamel (@NewspaperSteve) December 19, 2020
The Bear is back and has a case as the most disruptive interior DL prospect in the country. Explosive off the line, ultra physical and a nonstop motor. DL MVP of RCS Dallas as a freshman pic.twitter.com/8CY5ZaSthe
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) December 7, 2020
Here’s a highlight reel from a playoff game below.
(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)
- De’Nylon Morrissette: Gunner Stockton to UGA changes up his outlook considerably
- WATCH: Gunner Stockton’s feet are planted long term; Says he’ll graduate from UGA
- Assessing the ripple effect of Gunner Stockton choosing UGA
- Gunner Stockton: The must-read stories to know on Georgia’s new 5-star QB commit
- Recruits react on social media to the Gunner Stockton decision
- BREAKING: Gunner Stockton makes his final decision to commit to UGA
- FILM ROOM: 5-star Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins is next up in the DawgNation film room
- Oscar Delp: Georgia continues its all-out blitz recruiting for its No. 1 TE target for 2022
- Malaki Starks: How does the Charlton Warren news affect the priority 5-star ATH?
- Mykel Williams: State’s top-rated junior DL prospect ramps up his decision timeline
- DawgNation film room: Impressive 3-star OL Jared Wilson
- BREAKING: Georgia gets a commitment from 3-star junior LB Donovan Westmoreland
- Kojo Antwi: Speedy in-state WR is a huge name to know in the 2022 class
- In-state safety Emory Floyd in on the shortlist of the fastest prospects in the 2022 class
- Emmanuel Henderson: Nation’s No. 1 junior RB already has a strong link to UGA
- Terrion Arnold: All-American DB gives a very good look at his final three schools
- Jalon Walker: The All-American LB target who rattles teeth and aspires to fix them