Football growing on Cooper prospect

Published 9:14 am Thursday, October 26, 2023


Contributing columnist

Four-star recruit Austin Alexander grew up a Kentucky basketball fan in northern Kentucky mainly because his father was a huge fan of the 2014-15 UK team that had Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein.

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“I’ve always been a basketball fan. I did not watch too much football and when I did it was probably more Alabama and Notre Dame,” said the 6-3, 242-pound edge rusher/tight end of Cooper High School.

However, he’s watching a lot of football now because he has a long list of Division I scholarship offers, including one from Kentucky.

“UK has been showing a lot of love and made its presence very well known over the past few months. It’s cool getting love from the home state SEC school,” Alexander said.

Alexander is a top 200 player in the 2025 recruiting class in some rankings and a top 20 edge rusher. He had 54 solo tackles, 31 assists, 11 sacks, two tackles for loss, one interception and a blocked kick in 2022 along with 34 catches for 522 yards and six scores.  This season he has 33 solo tackles, 16 assisted tackles, eight quarterback sacks, five tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one interception he returned 75 yards through eight games and on offense has 42 catches for 742 yards and 11 scores.

He recently made a visit to Notre Dame and also has offers from Purdue, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Maryland, Miami (Ohio), Louisville,  Liberty, Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Duke, Charlotte, Akron and Gardner-Webb.

“I am just relying on God for guidance. He has given me offers and can take them away. I just put in the work and trust God. This has all just been a blessing unfolding for me,” Alexander said.

He has ties to a lot of schools. His uncle is former Boone County star Shaun Alexander who went to Alabama — he was the 1999 SEC Player of the Year — and then played in the NFL for Seattle. His mother also attended Alabama while his dad went to Notre Dame and played in the drum line. His grandfather played football for Bear Bryant at Alabama. His uncle helped connect his mother and father.

The Cooper junior got on UK’s radar with his performance at camp last summer and  got his scholarship offer from Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow.

Kentucky has verbal commitments in its 2024 recruiting class from two Northern Kentucky senior standouts — Covington Catholic tight end Willie Rodriguez and Simon Kenton offensive lineman Aba Selm. Alexander and Selm have been friends for several years now and that could enhance UK’s chances with Alexander.

“Him and Willie have both been pushing me to go blue for sure,” Alexander said.

Alexander loves being a two-way player and says he has always been a “dominant” player in any sport he’s played.

“It was that way back in Little League basketball. I was a force in middle school football. My dad always coached me and helped me a lot,” Alexander, who could make his college choice as early as January, said. “I just love making plays. I love defense. I love studying the game. I like being a full-time player both ways. I like to make catches or make blocks on offense. It’s definitely a big challenge going both ways but it’s also a lot of fun.”

He’s not the only talented athlete in his family. His sister, Maleah, is a senior soccer and basketball standout. She’s the all-time leader in goals and assists for Cooper soccer.

“My sister is such a great athlete. Ever since I was a little kid we were on the same team at the Y and have trained together,” Alexander said. “During COVID and lockdown, we worked together and went against each other every day. She has made me so much better.”

She has college options in both sports but he feels she’s leaning to basketball.

“I really think she is the best defender in the (9th) region and probably the state in basketball,” the Cooper junior said. “She has all the records for soccer at our school.

Alexander also has a deep love of music. He plays piano and bass guitar.

“I find peace with God and music,” he said. “My dad was big into music and introduced me to music. He’s a big percussionist and his rhythm went straight into me. His extended family is alway singing and making beats. I would like to make music and see what that looks like however I can. I love making and producing music.”

Today he’s more concerned with producing more wins. Cooper beat Dixie Heights 21-14 Friday night to end regular-season play at 8-2. It lost 28-10 to Ryle and 58-51 to Highlands in a Class 5A district matchup.