Family connection leads linebacker JD Alexander to UNLV

UNLV‘s JD Alexander practices during the first day of training camp at Rebel Park on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. Patrick Connolly Las Vegas Review-Journal of the netting surrounding Rebel Park was blown down by Saturday night‘s strong winds. Photo by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal

When JD Alexander was looking to transfer from Arizona State following the 2016 season, he had a familiar place to consider as a landing spot.

His dad, Del, was twice a UNLV assistant football coach, first in 1998 under Jeff Horton and then from 2000-02 under John Robinson.

Plus, Del Alexander, now the Notre Dame wide receivers coach, knew current Rebels coach Tony Sanchez. They developed a working relationship when Sanchez coached Bishop Gorman High School and Del Alexander would recruit his players.

“I’ve known his dad for a long time,” Sanchez said. “He’s a really good guy. (JD Alexander) is a coach’s kid, and that’s why he’s such a ‘yes, sir, no sir,’ kid. He shows up on time and is ready to work and has just been raised right. I know his dad’s real proud of him. He always swings by whenever he’s in town.”

Alexander, a junior, is making a push for second-team linebacker and can play on the weakside or in the middle. He sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules.

Alexander (6 feet 2 inches, 225 pounds) said he considered UNLV when coming out of Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona. His dad was Arizona State’s passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at the time, so JD decided to stay close to home and chose the Sun Devils.

But when his family moved to the Midwest, he decided it was time to leave and wanted to stay in the West.

“Sending me to Coach Sanchez was the best fit for me because (Del) trusted Coach Sanchez and what he was doing at UNLV,” Alexander said.

Position breakdown

Wide receiver


1. Kendal Keys, Sr., 6-4, 205

2. Elijah Trosclair, Soph., 6-3, 200; Patrick Ballard, Fr., 6-3, 195


1. Brandon Presley, Jr., 6-0, 180

2. Drew Tejchman, Soph., 5-11, 190


1. Mekhi Stevenson, Soph., 6-0, 180; Darren Woods Jr., Jr., 6-0, 220

2. Tyleek Collins, Fr., 5-9, 170


— Sophomore quarterback Armani Rogers was much sharper in Sunday’s practice at Rebel Park than in Saturday’s scrimmage at Sam Boyd Stadium.

“It’s some of the mechanical things of him locking in that front shoulder and not following through,” Sanchez said. “He’s got to commit to those little things, and he’ll be better at it. He’s been better at it throughout the whole camp. You just want to see it consistently. He was better (Sunday).”

— Sophomore defensive end Nate Neal will have X-rays to his left ankle to determine the extent of the injury suffered during the scrimmage. “Hopefully, it’s just a bad sprain and he’ll be back in a couple of days,” Sanchez said.

— Saturday night’s high winds blew down part of the netting surrounding Rebel Park.

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Mark Anderson at Follow on Twitter.

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