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Super Six: Buford's Alexander grateful to have final season

Photo by Jason Braverman

Photo by Jason Braverman

You won't find many football players that will tell you they like two-a-days, especially 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive linemen.

So to hear Buford's Vadal Alexander's excitement about the grueling days of summer, it sounds a little weird.

"It's a blessing to be able to do that," Alexander said. "To be in practice with my teammates, I'm really enjoying it."

This time last year Alexander didn't even know if he would every play another down of football in his life. He was hit was a rare immune disorder in the spring and spent the summer months rehabbing. It wasn't until the sixth game of the season that Alexander hit the field again.

Now a senior, Alexander is the state's top offensive lineman prospect and is ready to make up for lost time on the field.

"I'm happy I can play the whole season. I'm kind of grateful," Alexander said. "I'm ready to get the season off right and just kill it."

It was last spring when Alexander and his coaches began to realize there was something wrong. He could barely get in a football stance, he had no power in his legs and had a hard time standing up. He wasn't the same Vadal Alexander that plowed defensive linemen as a sophomore.

After several trips to the doctor, it was revealed Alexander had Gullain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes your immune system to attack your nervous system.

Alexander went through a five-day course of immunoglobulin therapy and then physical therapy throughout the summer. At one point, the major college prospect needed a walker just to move around.

It wasn't until last July that he was able to shed the walker and a few weeks later start practicing with the team. He didn't return until the sixth game of the season and helped Buford its fourth-straight state championship.

"Watching the battle he had, it legitimately took him a full year to where he was," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "We felt like at spring practice this year he was back to the old Vadal. Being able to bend in his stance, being explosive, being able to accelerate, being able to change directions. All of that stuff, it took a full year with Gullain-Barre disease to really recover and look like the old guy he used to be."

With his health in jeopardy, Alexander didn't know how it would affect his football career. He had dozens of college scholarship offers and many of them stuck with Alexander, hoping he would be cured.

"I just took it that if they really wanted me they would stick with me," Alexander said. "I'm really grateful and blessed they stayed with me."

He's narrowed down his choices to Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Miami and plans to make a decision by mid-season. Alexander has been selected to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American game and recruiting services have tabbed him as the state's top offensive lineman.

It's quite a contrast to this time last season when Alexander didn't know if he would play again. As for his rare disease, it's likely a one-time deal like chicken pox.

So when Vadal Alexander says he likes two-a-days, that he likes being in the hot sun practicing, he means it. Because in the back of his mind is the alternative.

"I always know it could be worse now. I could not be playing football or even walking," Alexander said. "Now I take everything to heart and I'm blessed. I'm happy to be out there, happy to be able to play football."