Cal Football

Bear Insider Podcast: Former Cal Bear Lorenzo Alexander

January 14, 2020

Former Cal defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander has been a veritable swiss army knife in the NFL with his versatility in excelling at several different positions to extend his long and successful career.

Originally a 4 star 6-1/300 US Army All-American Bowl defensive tackle recruit from St. Mary’s (Berkeley, CA) High School, Alexander started much of his career at Cal (2001-2004) and entered his NFL career as an undrafted free agent, signing with the Carolina Panthers after the draft, where he played two seasons. Alexander also spent time with the Washington Redskins (2007-2013), the Arizona Cardinals (2014-15), the Oakland Raiders in 2015 and the Buffalo Bills from 2016 till his retirement following the Bills’ wild card round playoff defeat to Tennessee this season, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2012 and 2016. Over his career, the versatile Alexander amassed 470 tackles, 33 sacks, 12 forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and 31 pass deflections.

“I played a little bit of guard, a little bit of fullback, defensive end, special teams, linebacker,” said Alexander. “I’ve a had a unique career as far as the positions I’ve played and the weight that I’ve had to lose over the course of my career.”

Alexander started the game late, only playing organized ball starting in high school but it wasn’t a lack of desire that kept him off the gridiron.

“I didn’t play until high school,” said Alexander. “That was mainly because California had a law that had a weight limit. I was like eight years old and I would’ve had to play with 12-year old boys and my mom wasn’t having any of that at. She wanted to make sure I was safe. That’s a big age difference when you’re talking about eight and 12 year olds.”

But just because he couldn’t be a part of organized football didn’t slow him down in his athletic pursuits.

“I found other ways,” said Alexander. “I played basketball, baseball and any time I could sneak out in the park and play with the kids in the neighborhood, I was always trying to play football. Being the youngest, it created that toughness early on, just trying to keep up with and compete with those guys.”

Growing up in the shadows of the Cal campus, the Bears were always on Alexander’s radar, though he was too busy with sports, including Saturday afternoon games, to make many Cal games at Memorial.

“Growing up, I followed the Cal Bears and Stanford and all the local teams,” said Alexander. “It was really a privilege to go be able to go there there (Cal). It was a place that my grandfather always wanted me to go but he passed when I was six or eight so it was almost predestined for me to go to Cal.

“It was a really great opporunity and experience while I played there.

“I just really fell in love with the place. The guys had a really tight-knit family atmosphere going on and it was close to home so it was a no-brainer to commit to Cal.”

Alexander has a long list of former Cal teammates he’s kept in touch with over the years, with the bonds they forged at Cal continuing for years to come as their families expanded.

As for a favorite memory?

“Wow, the one that pops in my mind is beating USC in triple overtime (a 34-31 victory over the #3 Trojans),” said Alexander. “That was probably the coolest football moment that I can remember.”

Being a part of Cal’s rebuilding process after the departure of former head coach Tom Holmoe in 2001after his freshman year was also a special time for Alexander and his teammates

“It was really cool because my first year, we were 1-11 and had to play in that dreadful game after the tragic events of 9/11 after or during Thanksgiving, which sucked,” said Alexander. “To turn it around and be top five -should’ve been in that Rose Bowl (in 2004). I still hate Texas and Mack Brown. Everybody I see who played for Texas, I give them a hard time about that. But it was just cool.

“(Jeff) Tedford came in and had a vision and plan for the team. The rope was was kind of our mantra. But he believed in us and he had a great scheme and brought us some great talent.

“(DL coach) Ken Delgado was one of the foundational pieces as far as me being able to sustain in the NFL, just from a mental standpoint. Things that he used to do with us just to prepare us for the grind of the game and how to be a man. (DB coach) JD Williams. It was just a great group of coaches who helped us take it to the top.

“It was crazy. It went from seagulls in the third quarter to almost standing room only when I left. It was obviously a great time for us all.”

A young Justin Wilcox came to Berkeley in 2003 to coach linebackers and made an immediate positive impressive on Alexander.

“When I was there, I was a defensive lineman but my interactions, I always loved Justin,” said Alexander. “He had a young coaching staff so it was kind of cool to be around a guy who was closer in age. He’s a great student of the game, a great teacher. So it’s really been cool to see him really restore Cal football, especially the defense. For me, for so many years it was almost sickening to watch us lose games 50-49. So with him coming back and really wanting to be at Cal and bringing guys to really compete has been a joy to watch. I’m excited for the continuation of what he’s been able to develop.”

Another welcome element to Wilcox’s arrival at Cal was an immediate desire to bring former players back into the program in various capacities, including future Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers, who at one time was fairly estranged from the program.

“He’s brought some guys back who played with me, Burl Toler being one of the guys. So it’s been really cool to see some of the old-school to this young team,, noted Alexander.”

Under Wilcox’s leadership, many familiar faces have been brought back into the fold to tie the success and legacy of the past to today’s current building program.

“It’s been great,” said Alexander. “I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve enjoyed with the transition is just the welcoming of former players to come up there to train, trying to get us back involved. Tarik Glenn (Cal 1993-1997), with player development, tries to make sure he brings guys who have been successful to speak to the young men and encourage them and help them grow. It’s really been cool to see that transition from feeling not a part of the program to being included in what’s going on.”

To hear more from Alexander on his NFL career experiences, his family life and future plans, access the Bear Insider podcast link below:

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Discussion from...

Bear Insider Podcast: Former Cal Bear Lorenzo Alexander

1,404 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by kad02002
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I remember exactly when he committed. I was proximate to a colleague who was a furd alum. I remembered rubbing his nose in it.
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Amazing career, congratulations
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