Big Bear Alexander-Bear Alexander-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Georgia DT signee Big Bear Alexander was a decommitment and a recommitment to Georgia in the Class of 2022. He enrolled early as a midyear graduate at UGA in January of 2022. (Jeff Sentell /DawgNation)

Big Bear Alexander: Highly-rated, highly-favored but also with a Bear-sized pain tolerance

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This entry is about the latest with Georgia All-American DT signee Big Bear Alexander. Alexander is already on campus at UGA as an early enrollee.

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There’s a little-known story to share from Bear Alexander’s senior season. It says a lot about what Georgia has in one of its defensive line havoc-bringers of the very near future.

Alexander had to leave his home state of Texas to play for IMG Academy last fall to even have a senior season.

He did so while dealing with a shoulder injury he suffered during a camp workout in June of 2021. Alexander said at the Under Armour All-American Game week that he believed it to be a torn labrum.

It bothered him at times at IMG Academy this past fall. So much that he even braced it up while playing very good football for the Ascenders. When the brace began to bother him, then he ripped that off.

This correspondent didn’t know anything about that. Not until he saw Alexander in the medical tent during the second practice of the All-American Game week.

Alexander said it had started bothering him.

He felt like he’d eventually have to get it repaired once he arrived in Athens. That’s so he could be ready for Georgia’s fall camp and season opener against Oregon in September.

The typical recovery time for a torn labrum repair for football is approximately six months before the player is back to 100 percent strength. That’s why it made sense to take care of that now.

It means a great deal to him.

Given the nature of All-American practice weeks, most players are there to chillax, make life-long friends and collect some very cool gear. If a slight injury flares up, they are prone to call it a week.

They start taking their Gatorade with a drink umbrella the rest of the week.

Not Alexander. He practiced the next few days in Orlando and started in that game.

It was early in the third quarter when Alexander felt his shoulder throw another pain tantrum in protest. To the extent that he let out a large measure of that anguish when he came off the field.

If he called it a week, no one would notice. No one who knew what he was battling would judge.

He would not have been the only 5-star or All-American to leave that game. It was a hot day. The temperatures all week had been blistering.

Yet this is not a young man that will recline in the comfort of an excuse when things get hard.

Alexander stayed in. Kept making plays. Kept wrestling with All-Americans on their way to big-boy schools.

He wasn’t coming out. Wrecked shoulder at all.

According to his Instagram account, the nation’s No. 6 DL and No. 42 overall prospect underwent a surgical procedure over the weekend. That was done under the watchful care of Georgia’s world-class medical staff.

The belief here is it was indeed necessary to repair that shoulder. So he will be ready for fall camp. Big Bear does want to go Duck hunting in Mercedes Benz-Stadium.

There are a lot of annual superlatives for the guys on their way to UGA in each class. Fastest. Highest-rated. Strongest. Biggest.

Bear Alexander might be the toughest since Kirby Smart has been in Athens. At least.

“With a torn labrum, just take practice each day into perspective with that,” Alexander said at the Under Armour All-American Game. “The other offensive linemen were like ‘Hey man can you chill?’ or ‘Can you slow down?’ or ‘Hey, are we friends?’ and I was like I don’t have any friends out here when this helmet comes on. It is all love and kisses afterward.”

Big as a Bear? Mean as one? Maybe he has that nickname because he is as tough as an ‘ol Grizzly, too.

Toughness? So that’s the thing? Not really. That isn’t anything special to him. Even at an All-American Game.

“Shoot from where we are from, that’s the only way you can be,” Alexander’s father Tony Jones said. “You don’t have a choice. The only way somebody catches up with you is if you stop. Then if you keep going while they stop, then you show everybody what is what.”

“It is about who the ‘Dawgs are out there. If ya’ll are playing ball, then we are playing. If you are putting a ball down there and telling us to play, then we are going to play. Not play around.”

There was also a matter here of the injury not getting any worse. That was what Alexander and his father believed was the case here. It just meant enduring a large amount of pain to play through it.

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Georgia DT signee Big Bear Alexander was a decommitment and a recommitment to Georgia in the Class of 2022. He enrolled early as a midyear graduate at UGA in January of 2022. (Jeff Sentell /DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

Big Bear Alexander: One tough new Georgia Bulldog

Rivals.com rates Alexander as a 5-star. He’s the nation’s No. 3 DL prospect and the No. 9 overall recruit for 2022.

But no service hands out stars for grit. That said, it is a highly-sought quality for any championship-seeking or championship-holding team.

Alexander says he will never have more to prove to anyone than he does to himself.

“This week was about testing myself,” he said after the Under Armour All-American Game on January 2. “It was good on good. It was the closest thing to a college feeling and experience. So I put it all out on the line.”

Where does all of that come from? Busted shoulder and all?

“Man, it is all mental toughness,” Alexander added. “Being disciplined. Being able to compete with yourself. Not too many can work in the day and then shine in the light.”

He has a classic pose in pictures on his Instagram. His broad shoulders get a little wider. His arms and hands are locked inside. Like a pair of fangs. Locked. Standing 10 toes down.

“It just shows the emotion,” he said. “Everything I have been through. To be able to flex when you aren’t supposed to be able to be flexing. I’m supposed to be down, but I take the time to flex to show the world where I am heading.”

Jalon Walker, his All-American teammate and now Georgia teammate, did not detect what Alexander was going through all week.

“I had no idea about that with Bear,” Walker also said that day at Camping World Stadium. “But that man is strong. I didn’t know that. I guess a lot of people didn’t know that. He’s been balling all week at practice. He sure did ball today. Getting off those blocks from the O-line. He’s a great athlete and he’s got that strength and that mental strength you want. He uses it all to the best of his ability.”

Big Bear Alexander (right) stops for a photo with his father, Tony Jones, after the Under Armour All-American Game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. on January 2, 2022. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

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Big Bear Alexander: What his coaches saw during All-American Week

The day he aggravated that shoulder in practice was the same day the trench monsters were scheduled for the post-practice punt catch drills.

Alexander was sitting in the medical tent when they called his name. When they did, he went over to that station where all the big guys were. He put on a T-shirt and went to work.

He did not point to his shoulder. Or say anything about it. It stands to reason that lifting one’s arms above shoulder height would be pertinent to catching punts.

When Alexander didn’t field his attempt, he made no excuses. He just said it was hard to see the ball in the blinding Florida sun. The trench monsters were placed there to catch the booming kicks from the All-American punters staring right into that fireball.

When he missed that attempt, his line coach for the week had a good line. Defensive line trainer Nate O’Neal summed up all things Alexander nicely.

He was one of the coaches on Alexander’s team for that week.

“That’s okay, Bear,” O’Neal said. “We won’t need him to catch our punts. We just need him to take care of that ‘A’ gap for us. He’s got that locked for us just fine.”

O’Neal, known as Feet/Hips/Hands account on social media, summed up what he saw out of Bear that week.

“In the camp circuit, we don’t have the ability to go against the run-type stuff,” O’Neal said. “Bear really strikes blocks well and gets into his gap.”

Georgia defensive line coach Tray Scott will approve.

“Watching him against the run is something that Tray Scott at Georgia is going to just lose his mind over. He’s going to love him.”

Alexander is not a “5″ technique in the SEC. He will be a great interior defensive lineman. He just won’t be the Jordan Davis “0” tech a lot of fans and that No. 99 jersey might be making him out to be.

“He’s going to play that ‘3′ technique and that ‘2i’ and some shade and he’s a big and a powerful human being,” O’Neal said. “He’s absolutely aptly named by everyone calling him Bear.”

O’Neal pointed out something most might not recognize in his assessment. He credited former Texas defensive line skill trainer Brandon Jordan for his work. Jordan was recently hired to be a defensive line specialist coach at Michigan State for Mel Tucker.

“Now, he is a little twitchy,” O’Neal said. “Brandon Jordan ‘BTJ’ out in Texas has done a great job with him. He can bend some. But [it has been fun] watching that young man strike a block, create that separation, peeking through his holes and then throwing that block out of the way whether he is playing his hole or going back and playing an ‘A’ gap or a ‘B’ gap.”

O’Neal tours colleges to help work with their top guys. He makes that trip to Athens at times. Then he will work with more of those elite players in Florida to prep them for the NFL Combine, their Pro Days and the NFL Draft.

He pointed out one special sequence for Alexander during the All-American week. It came on the first day during an interior drill.

The All-Americans were in helmets and shoulder pads.

“Bear was lined up in a ‘2i’ and he struck that guard and stuck his head in that ‘A’ gap and that back bounced it to the ‘B’ gap and immediately Bear just cross-shed, came over and made the tackle for a two-yard loss,” O’Neal said. “Man, it was beautiful.”

Georgia DT signee Big Bear Alexander was a decommitment and a recommitment to Georgia in the Class of 2022. He enrolled early as a midyear graduate at UGA in January of 2022. (Jeff Sentell /DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
Georgia DT signee Big Bear Alexander was a decommitment and a recommitment to Georgia in the Class of 2022. He enrolled early as a midyear graduate at UGA in January of 2022. (Jeff Sentell /DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

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