STANFORD, Calif. - The bigger the game, the better Terrence Alexander played.
“I don’t really get nervous too much,” said the Stanford freshman cornerback. “So in big games when a lot of people have nerves, that just pushes me to be more of a clutch player because I’m used to being in positions where you have to make the right decision.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder starred at John Curtis Christian High School in New Orleans, where he sparked the team to three consecutive state titles. As a senior, Alexander made 32 tackles, defended 19 passes and grabbed four interceptions. Showing his versatility and playmaking ability, he produced four touchdowns on an interception, two punt returns and a kickoff return.
“He’s used to playing on the big stage,” said his father, Bandele. “He’s not scared of the moment. Why, I don’t know. I’m nervous as all heck.”
Alexander has a simple explanation.
“It’s just human nature,” he said. “I play up to the competition.”
The middle of three children, Alexander was heavily recruited by SEC schools and could have easily stayed closer to home. But he wanted to challenge himself – academically and athletically – and fell in love with Stanford on his recruiting trip.
“It was a little bit of everything,” said Alexander, also a standout sprinter on the track and field team, and a member of the National Honor Society. “Best education you can get in the world, great football program, and a family environment. Actually, just meeting people with the same goals that you have about being successful is what did it.”
Asked to name his biggest strengths as a player, he said, “Speed, physicality and my coverage ability. Now I have to transition to the college pace because the speed is a lot faster.”
One of 20 freshman scholarship players, Alexander knows he must improve on and off the field to be successful on the college level. All are enrolled in summer school and work out daily with Shannon Turley, the Kissick Family Director of Football Sports Performance.
“Nothing comes easy at Stanford,” Alexander said. “You have to grind in the classroom and work on the field and in the weight room, because we have one of the best programs in the nation. When you sign up to come to Stanford, you know what you’re going to have to do. It’s hard, like I thought it would be. But it’s all worth it in the end, so I can’t complain.”
The freshman class bonded during recruiting trips and have become even closer since starting classes. They live together in the same dorm, but will split up once school starts in September.
“We’ve been tight since my official visit,” said Alexander. “I think the relationships will stick for the next four years.”
Twice a week, the freshmen have informal workouts with the returning players, who help them learn terminology and plays. Alexander has been impressed by their leadership, humble personalities and drive to succeed.
“I got that the first couple days being here … the expectations,” he said. “The bar is set very high. I’m just trying to get better every day.”
As for his own expectations, Alexander isn’t sure what the coaches have in mind, but wants to prove he is ready to contribute whenever they need him.
“I’m just focused on getting ready for the season and making sure my body is ready for the long fall camp because it’s a big transition from high school to college,” said Alexander. “If you have the mindset to be ready physically and mentally, you’ll fit right in with the group. If everything goes right, I should hopefully earn a spot on the depth chart so I can play this year.”
While he’s only been a Stanford student-athlete for a short time, he already feels tremendous pride. One of the attractions for Alexander was the network of possibilities he will discover off the playing field. He’s excited to meet new people and see what the future holds.
“The connections you make here will set you up for the rest of your life,” Alexander said. “People will always be there for you and try to make a big difference in the world.”