Interview With Former California Golden Bear and Current Washington Redskin Lorenzo Alexander

We are lucky to be California Golden Bear fans now.  Not just because we're seeing sustained levels of success with a variety of athletics teams, but also because we're also seeing a lot of our favorite players succeed at the professional level.  Lorenzo Alexander is one such Golden Bear currently succeeding in the NFL.  We contacted Mr. Alexander and he was so generous with his time to answer a few questions for us.  After the jump, see what Lorenzo Alexander has to say.

First, however, let's learn a little bit more about Lorenzo Alexander.  He played at Cal from 2001-2004 on the DLine, spanning both the Holmoe and Tedford regimes.  He helped Cal turn around from some of the frustrations of the early 2000s. Even though he played defensive line at Cal, he has now transitioned to the linebacker position.  Playing alongside former Cal Bear, Andre Carter, in the Redskins defense, he is now excelling at the linebacker position:

Alexander impressed the previous two coaching staffs with his versatility on offense, defense and special teams, and Coach Mike Shanahan's crew is raving about the former lineman's work at linebacker. Alexander is making a smooth transition from a three-technique interior lineman, the position he primarily played in his first three seasons with the Redskins, to an outside linebacker in Washington's new 3-4 base front, coaches say.

Alexander also has played defensive end, as well as tight end and guard on offense, in addition to his contributions on special teams. But it seems he could be an integral part of the linebacker rotation this season. Through the first two minicamps and two sessions of organized team activities, Alexander has excelled in every facet of his new role.

"He's been awesome. The guy's awesome. The guy's unbelievable," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said Wednesday at Redskins Park. "He's a better athlete than I would have ever guessed. If you'd told me last year he played three technique, I would have never guessed it.  "If you said he played linebacker, I would have said he played linebacker. He's 275 pounds. He's ideal size for the position. He's got good rush ability. He's unbelievably smart. He's tough as nails. I love the guy."

And if you don't think that is enough, he is a very charitable guy.  Not only was he named Walter Payton Man Of The Year for his community service by the NFL, he is actually hosting an event this weekend in the Bay!  Yes, you can meet Lorenzo Alexander this weekend along with Andre Carter, Chris Wilson, Jason Campbell, and Langston Walker.  Tosh Lupoi is also scheduled to be there!  All the money donated benefits the Lorenzo Alexander ACES Foundation.  You can learn more here about the ACES Foundation, which helps provide SAT help and other tutoring to students in Oakland.  The information for the bowling event is as follows:

When: Saturday, March 26, 2011 - Silent Auction (4 p.m. PDT); Bowling (5 p.m. PDT)

Where: Albany Bowl, 540 San Pablo Avenue, Albany, CA (510-526-8818)

Tickets: $50 for adults and $25 for children 18 years old or younger. A discounted family package is available for $100 for advance purchase for families of four. All tickets are tax deductible.

Always great to see that Cal athletes are not just great athletes, but great humans.  Keep up to date with Lorenzo Alexander at his website here and read his answers after the jump.  Many thanks to Mr. Alexander and GO BEARS!

1. Tell us about your transition from an interior D-lineman to an outside linebacker with the Redskins. Why the switch and how did that come about?

Wow... It a long story but it started back when I first joined the Redskins in 2006. Initially, I was a part of the practice squad playing both offensive and defense line.  Thus going into our 2006 Training Camp I was an offensive lineman due to how well I performed in practice against the 1's.  I didn't know it at the time, but that was the birth of my niche in the NFL and my nickname "One Man Gang".  From that moment on I would go on to play several positions: OG, TE, FB, DT, DE and special teams.  I didn't transition to LB until Coach Shanahan and Haslett brought the 3-4 system to Washington in 2010.  At first, I was penciled in as an Defensive end in the scheme (probably too undersized but didn't stop me before), but it was not until the coaching staff had an opportunity to watch me play on the Special teams and saw how well I played in space.  At that point they asked me to switch and add another position to my resume.

2. Do you stay in touch with some of your Cal teammates? Which ones?

I try to stay in contact with many of the guys as possible, but its hard because we are all so busy theses days.  Some of the guys, it is a monthly conversation over the phone, while with other guys its a message over twitter, facebook or/and email. I was fortunate to play with the great Andre Carter the last 5 years, so I was in contct with him daily.  As far as the other guys: Aaron Rodgers, Nnamdi Asomugha, Donnie McClesky, Tosh Lupoi, Geoff MacArthur, Chase Lyman, Marshawn Lynch, Desmond Bishop, Randy Bundy, Burl Toler, Monte Parsons as well as some other guys.


3. Who was the toughest O-lineman you faced in the Pac-10?

During my freshmen year, I was literally baptized under fire and probably was not ready to play consistently at a high level.   By the end of the season, I was wore down.   But the game that stood out where one guy gave it too me all game and it was noticeable by not only me but my family was in the 2001 Big Game.  Eric Heitmann went on to be drafted by the 49ers in that following draft and eventually became a starter. So over time that eased the pain, but I never forgot and I have been hoping and wishing to cross paths again

4. Do you follow Cal football at all? What's your sense of how the program is doing?

I do not follow it as closely as I once did, and I believe that due to me not knowing any of the players. Plus I am on the east coast and they rather show some boring ACC or SEC game before they put on a PAC 10 games. However, I stay connected through Tosh Lupoi, who I had the pleasure of playing with while I was at CAL. I think the Program is doing alright.  They have not been able to play consistently at a high level. And much like the Redskins, they lose game they should and are very competitive against the top teams.


5. What's the best memory you have from your Cal football career?


The best memory would have to be the entire journey of being 1-11 as a freshmen ranked second to last in all of D 1 football and becoming ranked 5th in the country and finishing 10-2 as a senior, and should have been in the Rose Bowl.

6. What is it like to play against Cal teammates at the NFL level?

I absolutely love it, especially if it is a guy I played with at CAL. For example, this year we played Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. At CAL we could never hit A Rod for obvious reason, but it was awesome having the opportunity to sack and talk trash to him.  He is a great competitor and friend, so beating him was great


7. What originally interested you in playing for Cal?


Really, it was two fold.  They were not a great program, but they had a great D line coach in Bill Dutton.  He helped several player reach the NFL and, of course, the education.  When I tell people I graduated from CAL, they look and respond to me differently.



8. What was the transition like from the college level to the NFL level?

It was hard for me because I was on practice squad for 2 years, so I had to humble myself.  Going from playing every down to not playing at all was hard.  Of course the speed and strength of guys was off the charts but I think even worse was the business side of football.  You are taught all your life to be loyal and be a team player, but you can be traded, cut, or released in a heart beat and that was definitely hard on me until I figured it out and found my niche in the league.


9. What was the biggest thing that you learned at Cal that helped you in the NFL?

The biggest thing is being able to talk to and network at CAL

10. Are you interested in becoming a coach whenever your playing career is finished?

I would like to coach, but no higher than high school.  Just too much time at the office and out trying to recruit or come up with game plans.  I want to be able to pour into my kids and be there for them as they grow up.

11. What was your favorite Top Dog?


Didn't have one all was good.  I was more of a korean bbq guy, with the rice chicken and teriyaki sauce.

12. You were part of a recruiting class that saw the tough times, but also the best times: 1-10 in 2001, but 10-2 in 2004. Talk a little about what went in to turning around Cal's program.


Alot of hard work and guys bonding together and demanding excelence from each other, and having tedford come in and lead us. We also had some great players come in from Juco A Rod, JJ, Ryan Riddle, and so on.  Soon, they meshed great with the the recruiting classes Mebane, Marshawn, Donnie, ect.  The biggest thing though everyone was accountable and there was discipline.

13. What do you miss the most about Cal, Berkeley, & the Bay Area?

Well, that is my home, so I miss the mild winters, because we had 50 plus inches last year.   Also, I miss bums on Drum, telegraph, the political rhetoric and Clark Kerr.


14. What advice do you have for fellow recruits about Coach Tedford?


Coach Tedford is very detailed and will have you mentally ready to play. He holds everyone from top to bottom accountable and expects excellence.

 

15. What's the one thing you can't miss out on when you are a student @ Cal?

The education. As a player in the NFL, so many guys wish they graduated.  And the weight that Cal carries across the country is phenomenal.  So, go to class, soak up the knowledge, and equip your self with the skill set provided through various classes.  Lastly network and bond with the non student-athlete population.  Those relationships will be priceless when you are done playing.

17. Can you share the funniest story from the Cal teams that you played on?


The funniest moments definitely did not happen on the field. But one of my moments that guys never allow me to forget was at a party. I was showing off my dance skills, slipped on some spilled liquid on the floor, and ended up in something resembling the splits. From that day on guys like Donnie McCleskey feel like its their duty to tell me and whoever else how I can drop it like its hot.

 

Again, thanks to Lorenzo Alexander and don't miss his event this weekend.  GO BEARS!

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