Few players in recent Virginia Tech memory have shown as much promise as a freshman as Adonis Alexander did in 2015.
Alexander made mistakes, sure, but he looked like a potential star at free safety. His four interceptions and six pass breakups made him a bright spot in Virginia Tech’s secondary. There was little doubt that by Alexander’s senior season, he would be the bedrock of Tech’s defensive backfield.
Fast forward to now, and he isn’t even on the team. Virginia Tech announced on Friday that Adonis Alexander is “no longer participating in team-related activities related to the Virginia Tech football program.”
“We wish Adonis the very best as he determines the next steps he wishes to pursue,” said head coach Justin Fuente in a written statement.
Later on Friday, Alexander released a statement through his new agent, Andy Ross, taking responsibility and announcing his decision to apply for the NFL supplemental draft.
“After last season, my family and I received positive feedback from the NFL, but I decided to return to Virginia Tech to make a run at the National Championship with my brothers. Unfortunately, I have been ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming season and have therefore decided to apply for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.
“I take full responsibility for not taking care of my business in the classroom. I will use this tough lesson as motivation to get better and learn from my mistakes as I become a professional. I appreciate all the support VT’s coaches and athletic department have given to me during my time on campus. Thank you all again! Hokie for life!”
The news came along with the confirmation that JUCO transfer Jeremy Webb will miss the entire 2018 season due to a left Achilles injury. Virginia Tech is now in dire straits at cornerback and the Hokies’ most experienced option is no longer on the team.
Alexander’s departure from the team shouldn’t be surprising. In fact, we all should have seen this coming. Alexander’s career has been filled with missteps and mistakes, all of which have culminated in the end of his Virginia Tech career.
Doubt began to sink in when Alexander was suspended indefinitely after being charged with marijuana possession just days after the Hokies’ spring game in 2016. Alexander, as well as defensive end Houshun Gaines, were both reinstated to the team in July 2016 but suspended for the Hokies’ opener vs. Liberty.
Alexander’s second faux pas came at the beginning of the 2017 season, when Alexander was unofficially suspended for Virginia Tech’s games vs. East Carolina and Old Dominion.
“We will continue to uphold the exemplary standards of Virginia Tech football,” Fuente said in a statement. “Integrity, trust and teamwork remain the foundation of this program and that will not change. Adonis has not lived up to our expectations at Virginia Tech. He will continue practicing and participating in team activities. Our staff will continue to monitor his progress and evaluate his progress going forward.”
Alexander returned for the Hokies’ showdown vs. Clemson but never broke into the starting lineup. Alexander battled a nagging injury later in the year and entering this past spring, Alexander was hoping to find his footing once again. Virginia Tech desperately needed him to rebound, given the Hokies’ lack of depth at cornerback.
Instead, Alexander missed Virginia Tech’s spring game. Fuente announced the news just days prior, citing an injury and academic issues.
“Adonis has got — he’s a little nicked up and then working on school,” Fuente said.
Behind the scenes, there were serious concerns about Alexander’s academic standing. Even if he got himself healthy, would Alexander be eligible for the Hokies’ season-opener vs. Florida State on Sept. 3?
As it turns out, this final blunder was the last straw for Alexander. Despite the vague language, it seems like Alexander has played his final snap for the Hokies and that a transfer is more likely. Even more likely, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, is that Alexander will declare for the NFL Supplemental Draft. (UPDATE: Alexander has signed with NFL agent Andy Ross, who also represents former Virginia Tech players Tim Settle and Wyatt Teller.)
Players are rarely selected in the supplemental draft. Clemson’s Isaiah Battle was selected in 2015, but no one has been taken since then. Before that, the last supplemental draft pick was Baylor’s Josh Gordon in 2012.
Alexander has desirable tools. He’s experienced and athletic but for many teams, the off-the-field issues may take him out of the equation. Alexander deserves credit for taking full responsibility for his current situation. Not many young men would have the courage to come out and admit that it’s their fault. But he also deserves blame for putting himself in this situation.
If Alexander is picked, many will proclaim his time at Virginia Tech as a success. But in reality, it’s clear that Alexander has things he must work on. No one questions his talent. At 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds, Alexander is a prototypical defensive back. He’s a high-level athlete and has a knack for getting his hands on the ball.
But all the talent in the world can’t keep him on the field. Alexander must fix his problems off the field before his true potential can be realized. For his sake, let’s hope he gets back on the right path soon.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been amended to reflect Alexander’s statement and decision to declare for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft.)