Utah State football: Maurice Alexander making impact at safety
Utah State football • Formerly a linebacker, senior returns to team after year's suspension.
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Logan • The safety who hits like a linebacker should become familiar again soon to Utah State fans.

He used to be a linebacker. He's Maurice Alexander.

The senior, who was a rangy linebacker and pass rusher during the 2011 season, is back with the Aggies after a year away from the program. And he's been making his presence felt with hard tackles all over the field.

McKade Brady's graduation left an open hole in the secondary, one the Aggies have tried to fill with Alexander, once an impact junior college transfer. He quickly has picked up where he left off, coach Matt Wells said, and he's going on a good learning curve at the position.

"I think from a run-oriented perspective and physicality perspective, [he's been] really good," Wells said. "I think he just needs to continue to learn the calls and the nuances of communication on the back end, which is very, very normal."

Alexander was dismissed from the program a year ago after a very different kind of hit. He punched a teammate in the eye, causing serious injury that required surgery. He ended up spending a year in limbo and pleading to a misdemeanor assault charge.

The time away from football showed him that he needed to mature.

"I made a stupid decision — a real stupid decision," he said. "It hurt me. It was a hard process, but I did what I had to do to get back. I knew they would accept me back because we're family."

Alexander has been through the legal process, and he's keeping his academics in order so he can play this fall.

He's always been a playmaker. He racked up 45 tackles, including seven for a loss, during his first year at Utah State out of Arizona Western College. He also had three sacks. He didn't play safety in college, but he did sometimes play the position at Eureka High School in suburban St. Louis.

The Aggies will love having a 6-foot-2, 212-pound menace in the secondary if Alexander can be consistent at safety. He knows there's still some more skills to work on, and he's trying to prove he can be what Utah State coaches and fans always hoped he could be.

"I'm feeling real good about it right now," he said. "I trained really hard to play safety. It's what's best for the team."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon