It has been a long way back for Buford’s Vadal Alexander

CHANNEL 2 SPORTS ZONE GAME OF THE WEEK

Vadal Alexander looks on from the sideline as Buford plays Carver-Columbus earlier this year. (Photo by Dean Legge/DawgPost.com)

Vadal Alexander looks on from the sideline as Buford plays Carver-Columbus earlier this year. (Photo by Dean Legge/DawgPost.com)

When big No. 74 jogs out onto Conley-Oakley Field with his Buford teammates tonight, folks will ooh and ah at his impressive size and athleticism and wonder who from Lovett will have to face this giant in the trenches. But Vadal Alexander won’t play in the Channel 2 Sports Zone Game of the Week (7:30 p.m., Comcast 248/Charter 126). And considering what he’s been through the last four months, he’ll be happy just to be there on the sidelines.

That’s because the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Alexander spent most of this past summer needing a walker to get around. His greatest feat each day was getting out of bed. His once-legendary squat, which peaked upward of 600 pounds last May, was reduced to zero by June. “If that,” he said.

Arguably the top offensive lineman in the state in the Class of 2012, Alexander was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome the first week of summer break. He said he first noticed symptoms during the last practice of the school year at Buford.

Little did he know then the medical journey that would commence.

“It was at practice,” he said. “I just felt kind of weird. My legs went out and it just kind of went down from there. I just thought it was the flu or a cold or something. All of the sudden there was this full blown thing and it was like, ‘Wow.’”

Wow is right.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder affecting the nervous system. It us usually triggered by an acute infection, such as influenza. It is characterized by weakness and usually affects the lower limbs first, rapidly progressing in an ascending fashion. After experiencing “rubbery legs” that tend to buckle, within days patients soon loose control of arms and facial muscles. In some cases, respiration can be affected. In worst cases, people die from it.

So instead of going to the beach and attending football camps as he had planned, Alexander found himself seeing neurologists, being injected with wicked-strong antibiotics and seeing himself be reduced to a shell of the athlete that had recruiters drooling from Baton Rouge to South Bend.

“I was on a walker for about a month and a half,” Alexander said. “It was crazy. You go from being on the field doing your thing, grinding and sweating and all that, to needing a walker to get around. . . . But that was at its worst.”

It was shilling transformation for Alexander’s coaches and teammates to witness.

“It’s sobering,” Buford coach Jess Simpson said. “For us as coaches, it’s about I want to see this kid walk and live a healthy life again after what he went through. For the kids it shows how fragile and how fast all this can be taken away from you.”

But the worst is over for Alexander now. He’s on his way back. To look at him today one would never know anything was ever wrong.

In fact, if it were up to Alexander he’d play in tonight’s game against Lovett. He was an integral part of last year’s Buford team that came into Atlanta and lost to these Lions 28-21. For the Wolves, that defeat snapped winning streaks of 49 regular-season games and 58 region contests.

“I was actually about to play last week, but I sat down with my parents and Coach Simpson and we talked and decided to hold off for a couple more weeks,” he said. “We’re going to have another meeting and see where we are now and see if I’ll play next week and see how it works out. We’re just being cautious.”

Remarkably, through it all, Alexander never had a “woe-is-me” moment.

“I knew it was all in God’s hands and he had a plan for me,” said Alexander, an outspoken Christian. “There’s a reason this happened. So I just thank Him for helping me through this. I’ll be back in tip-top shape; I pretty much am now. If it’s His will, everything will be completely fine. I think it is. It’s about time for me to come back.”

Meanwhile, college recruiters have never left his side. Without attending a camp or a combine during what’s usually a critical time in recruiting, the summer before one’s junior year, Alexander emerged with scholarship offers from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.

“I plan to go on visits very soon, if not this weekend then the rest of the college season,” Alexander said. “I’m still being heavily recruited; I still have all my offers. I guess they trust me and realize I still want it. I’m still getting letters every day.”

Where might he end up in college? That is the least of Alexander’s concerns at the moment.

“I’m just wide open right now,” he said. “All this happened this summer and I’m just trying to get back on that field underneath those Friday night lights. So I haven’t been leaning any one way or another right now.”

For the time being, standing upright is reward enough.

81 comments Add your comment

snoopybirddog

September 24th, 2010
10:00 am

chip is early, what is new in recruiting

juvenal

September 24th, 2010
10:16 am

God bless, you, this is a rough thing to fight through, hang in there, you will be in my prayers…

Worm

September 24th, 2010
10:22 am

Good luck Big fella.

SmyrnaMan

September 24th, 2010
10:26 am

Kids going to be a beast. Hope my Vols can sway him You might want to spell check prior to submitting

Lowndes25

September 24th, 2010
10:30 am

Glad Vadal is back up and going!! He is a phenominal athlete!

Chip Towers

September 24th, 2010
10:45 am

Lowndes25, others: My deepest apologies. That blog was not supposed to post yet. I wasn’t through writing it. So let’s just call that a sneak-a-peak Q&A. . . . Completed story up shortly!

Brian

September 24th, 2010
10:45 am

Proof read before hitting the send button. This is full of grammar and spelling errors. C’mom man get in the game!

TXDawg

September 24th, 2010
10:49 am

Lowndes25,

I’m from Coffee County and currently live in TX, but I keep an eye on the recruiting scene, I know UGA is after this kid, but with the more than likely chance that UGA getting the Theus kid how does it affect us recruiting him?

Chip Towers

September 24th, 2010
10:52 am

Brian: Dude, like I said, this wasn’t even supposed to be posted. I accidentally hit “publish” rather than save when I got up to take care of something. I’ll have the full story posted shortly. Patience please.

valleyboy32

September 24th, 2010
12:06 pm

HOW IN THE WORLD TECH LOST A RECRUIT TO NOTRE DAME MAN I WOULDNT SEND MY CHILD TO ANY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ESPECIALLY THE LIKES OF BYU WHY WOULD I WANT MY CHILD TO LEARN FALSE DOCTERINES AND A FALSE PROFIT IN THE POPE WAKE UP AMERICA

Lowndes25

September 24th, 2010
12:09 pm

TXDawg, great to hear from a former Coffee County Trojan…you guys aren’t doing so hot this year in football, but you should get it turned around in the next year or so. I used to live in Texas year’s ago…if you don’t mind me asking, where exactly do you live? Now, on to Vadal…honestly, his recruitment has been pretty low-key since he has been dealing with his health issue. John Theus is without a doubt our top priority on the Offensive Line next year, but we were one of the first team’s to offer Vadal a scholarship (thanks to the fact that we were already at Buford recruiting current UGA OL Kolton Houston). I haven’t heard anything on him in a while, but I will check with my sources and let you know if they have heard anything on him recently.

Chip, not a problem at all…we all do things like hitting the wrong button. Heck, I can’t tell you how many emails I have accidentally hit the Send button on that defnitely was not ready to be sent. Just an overall good story concerning Vadal though. Glad he is doing better, and I know that Buford is ready to get him back on the field. It will be an interesting game if Buford and Carver-Columbus meet up again in the playoffs and Vadal is healthy.

RESIGN OR RE-SIGN?

September 24th, 2010
12:10 pm

valleygirl:

BYU a Catholic school? Get Real!

Damn Good Dawg

September 24th, 2010
12:26 pm

good article chip, glad to hear the kid is doing better…here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and is back on the field soon…hope to see him in red and black

Bulldog huff

September 24th, 2010
1:00 pm

He has faith and thats all he needs good luck young man.sounds like a CMR, TYPE of kid!

valleyboy32

September 24th, 2010
1:24 pm

hey resign or re-sighn you’re right BYU isnt one still if its false i dont care wouldnt send my child to any if them period!!!!

ryan

September 24th, 2010
1:28 pm

I think i may just read Towers blog from now on because these story’s make you fell good and the comments are not as trashy on here as on other blogs .

TexasDawg

September 24th, 2010
1:35 pm

Hey TxDawg…I’m from Worth County…live in San Antonio now. I remember the days we played Coffee, Cario, Thomasville Cent…ect…GO Dawgs!

TXDawg

September 24th, 2010
1:41 pm

Lowndes25,

I currently live in Conroe, TX just north of Houston. I keep up with high school football in the area as well. I played at Coffee back in the mid 90’s. I talk to my cousin every week and he tells me that the boosters there in Coffee run the coach, and I’m sure you know how those things go when they tell you who to play. Coffee definitely has some up and coming players though. I appreciate all of your input about these kids, I really hope the black and red can lock up these boys and start winning some Natties.

Lowndes25

September 24th, 2010
2:12 pm

TXDawg, I lived in Wichita Falls for almost 4 years…a good ways away from where you are when you consider how big a state Texas is :) . Yeah, unfortunately, a good friend of mine who lived near Coffee County for years said pretty much the same thing about who runs the football program at Coffee. I really hate that b/c the school has the potential to be great if you could just purge all that dross away and let the coach do his job. The Lowndes TD club tries to stay out of Randy Mac’s “hair” and let him do his thing both on and off the field…so far, it has proven to be a pretty successful working relationship. Now, back to Vadal. Like I said in my previous post, there is not much news out there recruiting wise concerning Vadal…he has been incredibly low-key while he tended to his sickness. I expect his recruitment to pick back up pretty quickly though if he can show that he has fully recovered from his sickness. Also, FWIW, the Dawgs will be fine…you will see…we have a great team, but they are young…give them some time and you will see some awesome things (especially when AJ gets back next week and we are really able to open up our playbook).

TexasDawg, my wife has family from up in Worth County…not an incredibly big city, but they sure do love their football up that way (I think they are really missing the glory days of Coach Milt Miller though).

ryan

September 24th, 2010
2:30 pm

I hope the Dawgs do go after Vadal because we need big OL and with Clowney going to SC unless something changes with Spurrier we need him .

Snoopy

September 24th, 2010
2:37 pm

Vidal… I have watched you play a few years.. (I live in Flowery Branch) My neice goes to Buford.. You are an inspiration to many students & parents. Hold your head up high & keep your faith in Him!!

Would be great watching you at UGA lining up next to Dallas & Kolton!!

dawgster

September 24th, 2010
2:40 pm

Good article Chip…Hey Lowndes25…You didn’t happen to be in Wichita Falls around 1979 when that horrible tornado came thru and killed i believe 44 people, an awful trajedy..i was stationed in the service not far from there in Oklahoma…I hope things continue to go well for this young man…
Ryan..agree with your earlier posts, its nice to actually be able to carry on some civil and informative information…People like you, Lowndes25, and others help make this is a great place to discuss dawgs football and recruiting…

BigTimeTECHFan

September 24th, 2010
2:44 pm

Great story, sounds like great young man, keep it up Vadal and God speed.

Lowndes25

September 24th, 2010
2:45 pm

dawgster, Praise the Lord, I was not in Wichita Falls during that time. But I can honestly say that I have not forgotten the sounds that those loud warning sirens make…they make a lasting impression on you if you ever get the chance to hear them go off. In fact, I believe it was every Friday at noon they tested all of the sirens out…talk about loud…you couldn’t sleep through one of those things if you wanted too.

Snoopy, you are so right…Vidal’s story is an awesome one. He is definitely an inspiration to his friends, family and teammates.

dawgster

September 24th, 2010
3:03 pm

Lowndes…i do remember the sirens…i always tell people and they kind of laugh, but we had one drive-in theater and not much more where i was and we were given “tornado checks” instead of “rain checks” for when the sirens did go off..we could come back later and see the movie or a new one…i love trains, but sure don’t like the sound of one coming thru my living room..Hey Lowndes, this is old news i guess, but can you shed any light on A.J. Johnson out of Gainesville and why the dawgs are coming up short and really do not seem to be in the picture with some of these guys…they have been a team with alot of talent the last few years and have seen them play several times…i have heard some rumors and stuff, but thats about all…I hope the dawgs will keep an eye on them as they can turn out some very good talent as is evidenced by TJ Jones, ND, Blake Sims,Bama and now AJ Johnson, Tenn…thanks

Lowndes25

September 24th, 2010
3:15 pm

dawgster, unfortunately, I am going to choose not to put the reasons why we didn’t go hard after both Jones and Sims on this board…sorry…no need to beat a dead-horse if you know what I mean. They are both great athletes and I wish them nothing but the best on the next level. However, as far as AJ Johnson is concerned, our coaches classified him as a tweener athlete…meaning, the coaches didn’t really know where to play him at the next level. He has great North/South movement but his lateral movement is not the best. Our coaches just determined that he would not fit our system, which is why we didn’t offer him. Is he a great athlete…absolutely…but I wholeheartedly trust our new defensive coaches. Like has been reported numerous times, they know exactly what they are looking for in defensive talent and they won’t just offer a recruit to satisfy the masses. Hope that helps answer your question some…sorry I couldn’t shed more light on Jones and Sims but there is just no reason to do it on this blog.

GT Sambo

September 24th, 2010
3:34 pm

Ryan,
I think you will find the dialog on the recruiting blog much more collegial and much less partisan (a few strange comments above notwithstanding) than the back and forth flame wars you’ll see on the Tech and UGA blogs. Nobody here feels the need to defend their turf (except maybe flaming the occasional poster who tells Chip his coverage is too anti-UGA or too pro-UGA, which of course we hear both).

ryan

September 24th, 2010
3:46 pm

GT Sambo you and Big Time Tech fan are one of the few Tech guys i respect because your not to harsh towards us UGA fans .

Northleaf

September 24th, 2010
4:20 pm

Lowndes25 I’m From Valdosta and now live in Houston, Texas. I had the pleasure of seeing some of the Valdosta greats of the 60’s and 70’s. I have also been back visiting and have watched a few Randy Mac coached teams…FIRST DOWN VIKINGS!!! TOUCH DOWN WILDCATS!!!Do we get Rome and Mitchell, I feel we need both badly.

GTax

September 24th, 2010
4:29 pm

Enter your comments here

GTax

September 24th, 2010
4:30 pm

*** Nesbitt for Heismen ***

(((( 45 – 42 ))))

dawgster

September 24th, 2010
4:51 pm

Thanks Lowndes…I appreciate the info..being from around the area, i had heard a few things too, but never did really know the whole story..As far as AJ, i think what you said about him is pretty accurate…i have seen him play several times and he has performed well, but i agree i think that our defensive coaches know what they are looking for and i hope the dawg nation will be patient as Coach Grantham and team find the guys that will fit our system..Again, thanks for the info…go dawgs…

dawgster

September 24th, 2010
4:58 pm

Hey Northleaf…this is going to show my age, although i was JV, our mighty Trojans(Athens), came away with a tie with a great Valdosta team in 1969….We ended up being Co-State Champions…of course we had a guy you may have heard of by the name of Andy Johnson…one of the best athletes i have ever seen..what a night that was 26-26 tie against a Valdosta team that had only been scored on i believe one time that season…we were able to tie the game with a tacke-eligable pass…Valdosta was during that time period one of if not the best high school program in the country…Well enough of the good ole days…I hope we get a few more Valdosta kids..i know one in particular that might fit “end tight”…go dawgs

2DEAGLES

September 24th, 2010
5:14 pm

Very good story; very inspirational. I remember this kid when he was a running back at Dacula in GFL, and have tracked him through high school to see his continue to be a superstar. Good to see a kid be so firm in his faith to just KNOW everything will work out; good to see the recruiters not shy away as well. Be blessed.

Lowndes25

September 24th, 2010
5:51 pm

Wow, the Texas Dawg fans are representing on the boards today! Great to have you on the blog Northleaf…to answer your question, yes, we will get both Mitchell and Rome. Both guys are phenominal athletes and will be great additions to this class. Just for fyi, the inaugural Lowndes vs. Valdosta game is in two weeks…it should be one heck of a game!!

Northleaf

September 24th, 2010
6:33 pm

TexasDawg, it would be nice to see Mr. Green and Mr. Crowell both in red and black. I know Green’s not coming to UGA, but it WOULD be nice.

dawgster, I followed Andy at UGA and in the NFL (a running back) if I remmember correctly. I beleive Athans High (Fran T.) became Clark Central, correct me if I’m wrong. Clark Central has had several great teams and players. I listen to the Wildcats and Vikings on the internet nowdays.

ryan

September 24th, 2010
7:18 pm

Yea Clarke Central produce some good ones Willie Green , Chuck Smith , Dunta Robinson who now plays for the Falcons also QB M. Maddox who is going to SC.

Smithers

September 24th, 2010
8:35 pm

I don’t know if this player ends up at UGA down the road,
nor do I know who will be coaching UGA after the
Dawg’s season ends tomorrow.

naganole

September 24th, 2010
9:15 pm

naganole

September 24th, 2010
9:16 pm

:D No sunglass wearing smiley. I am disappoint…

CONFEDERATE DAWG

September 24th, 2010
9:21 pm

LOWNDES/VALDOSTA TAKES OVER AJC BLOG!!!!!

HAHIRA PRESENT!!!

ONELOVE GA
GATA DAWGS….

TXDawg (The Real TXDawg)

September 24th, 2010
10:41 pm

Poser (@Fake TXDawg)!!
This kid is truly blessed. These are the good stories we like to read about. Hopefully, he regains that 600lb squat form and carries it to UGA!

TXDawg (The Real TXDawg)

September 24th, 2010
10:44 pm

Hey Chip, there’s a top rated CB out of Los Angeles that has UGA high on his list. Heard anything about such?

ryan

September 24th, 2010
10:49 pm

TX Dawg who is the LA CB i do know UGA needs help in the secondary .

LateNiteBones

September 24th, 2010
11:29 pm

Central?

That is the school with big bad Alan Posey. Crazy that stud lineman

is going out of state to tutorsee and the brain trusts in athens did not

offer the big guy a ’ship. WHAT IS GOING ON?????

dawgster

September 25th, 2010
12:47 am

Hey Northleaf…sorry to get back to you…if you see this post, you are correct Athens High did become Clarke Central…and Yeas Andy did play running back in the NFL and had a good career…go dawgs…

Northleaf

September 25th, 2010
12:19 pm

ryan, that would be De’Anothy Thomas.

Sokay

September 25th, 2010
12:37 pm

Admire your courage and fortitude young man!

Hope you’re back real soon.

Keep on keepin’ on…

Alex Ross’ grandfather

DallasTXdawg

September 25th, 2010
2:26 pm

This kid sounds like a great person. Keep the faith and I hope to see at UGA.
It sure seems like UGA TX is well represented today, grew up in Douglas County and now live in Dallas TX.

shane#1

September 25th, 2010
3:01 pm

Good luck Vadal, and don’t listen to the naysayers. I have been hearing from the naysayers all week concerning the Lee County football team. “They haven’t played anybody yet.”, “Wait untill the region games start.” Last night the Trojans defeated Northside of Columbus 31 to 14, The sane Northside that was undefeated and had given up 35 points in three games. Justin Walker threw for 287 yards and four tds, bringing his total to 19 td passes in four games. Walker did throw his first two ints of the season. A td-int ratio of 19 to 2 is not bad! Props also to Lee Co. RB Denzel Eckles who ran for 122 yds and had 47 recieving yds. That little scat back can take it to the house anytime he has the ball.