COLUMBIA — Danario Alexander has been hard to forget on the football field this season. He has 1,238 receiving yards and 11 touchdown catches. He has twice been named Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
But linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said Alexander is not as noticeable off the field.
Iowa State (6-5, 3-4) at Missouri (6-4, 2-4)
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WHERE: Memorial Stadium
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“He can be a recluse,” Weatherspoon said. “You can actually forget about him sometimes because he’ll just stay in his room and just sleep and watch TV. And he doesn’t need anybody to go in there and talk to him or anything like that. He’ll just chill in there.”
Alexander said he doesn’t know why, but that he’s always made sure to take naps when he gets a chance.
“I sleep all the time,” Alexander said. “One of my favorite things to do, I just go home and sleep all day. Every chance I get, I try to get a nap in.”
Alexander’s roommate, cornerback Kevin Rutland, has grown accustomed to Alexander’s habits.
“We chat every now and then,” Rutland said. “He’s kind of soft-spoken, he doesn’t say much. He keeps to himself.”
Weatherspoon, a frequent visitor at Alexander and Rutland's apartment, said he enjoys a variety of hobbies with Alexander when he is awake.
“He’s a very creative guy,” Weatherspoon said. “He does a lot of stuff, he makes beats on his computer and stuff like that. And we kind of joke around rapping to it and stuff like that.”
One of Alexander’s other waking hobbies is updating his wardrobe. A common look for him is to wear jeans and a polo shirt. He says Ralph Lauren is one of his favorite clothing brands.
“People give me a hard time about it, but it’s just me I guess,” he said.
He spends a lot of his time looking around the Internet for new looks.
“I’m always getting new clothes, so I come with something different,” he said. “It’s just funny though, they always give me a hard time about it.”
Alexander has found his comeback when he hears jokes about his clothes, simply telling them he is a better dresser than they are.
“I just tell them ‘I’m fresher than them,’ all the time, so they can’t give me a hard time about it,” he said.
Weatherspoon admits to being one of the teammates that has given Alexander a hard time for his wardrobe, given that many members of the team prefer to wear sweatpants.
“He never can take a day off from dressing up,” Weatherspoon said. “He wears jeans and a polo pretty much every day of the week.”
But Weatherspoon said he’s come to appreciate Alexander’s fashion savvy, putting sweatpants on the back burner and wearing jeans more often. Weatherspoon said this has become especially important given that he will be meeting with representatives from NFL teams after his Missouri career ends.
“You just never know who you might run into,” Weatherspoon said. “You never know what kind of business opportunities you might run into. So it’s always good to be looking presentable. So that’s something I’ve kind of been taking from him.”
Like Weatherspoon, Alexander will be preparing for the NFL Draft after the season.
Weatherspoon doesn’t hesitate to mention Alexander’s name in the category of other well-respected wide receivers in college football.
“I’ve seen some big-time performances this year,” Weatherspoon said. “I played against Jordan Shipley, who’s a good receiver. I’d have to put Danario right up there with the best of them. He’s doing a great job.”
Alexander was not one of the 10 semifinalists listed for the Biletnikoff Award for college football’s best receiver, but Missouri athletic department spokesman Chad Moller has been talking to the award’s voters about choosing Alexander as a write-in candidate.
Alexander doesn’t show up highly on many of the mock drafts that float around on the Internet. NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a third- or fourth-round choice. Some other mock drafts that list the first three rounds don’t list Alexander.
He does have raw numbers an NFL team might like. He is listed at 6-feet, 5-inches tall and 215 pounds. He said he’s not sure exactly what his vertical jump is, but that it’s more than 40 inches. He hasn’t run a 40-yard dash in a long time, but said he’s sure he could do it in 4.4 seconds.
NFL teams could be concerned about Alexander’s injury history. He has remained injury-free this season but missed six games over the previous two seasons with injuries to his wrist and to his knee.
Alexander’s 1,238 receiving yards this season are more than his career total coming into the season.
He’s accustomed to being a late bloomer.
When he came out for football as a freshman at Marlin (Texas) High School, he was one of the smaller players on the team. His high school coach, Jerry Malone, said Alexander weighed about 105 pounds at the time. He was given the nickname “Dust Mite,” a nickname that stayed with him through high school, even as he grew larger.
A lot of the college coaches that watched Alexander came to see his high school quarterback, Jeremy Sanders. Missouri assistant coach Dave Steckel took an early interest in Alexander. Missouri was the first school to present Alexander with an offer, and he accepted. It was during basketball season his senior year in high school.
“Really, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” he said. “I was just going to play sports and finish school, I guess.”
Other college football coaches began to notice Alexander, for his play on the basketball court. His combination of height and leaping ability meant some more schools showed a late interest for him to play football.
“I wasn’t going to let him out of it,” Malone said of Alexander’s commitment to Missouri. “And he wasn’t the type of kid that was going to try to get out of it. He was going to stick with it. He was just the type of kid that was a hard worker and his word meant a lot to him.”
Alexander said he doesn’t know how he projects as a draft prospect, but that he would like to go in the first round.
“That’s the goal,” he said. “It’s not in my hands. I try to do the best I can on the field and put myself in that situation, but that’s not in my hands right now.”