“We have a fairly young history with excellent defensive ends and that will continue under Coach Alexander’s guidance,” said Creighton. “With BenNeedham Coach Needham, who is joining our linebacker room as co-defensive coordinator, has previously worked with Coach Alexander and believes he is the right man to continue in that position. He’s off to an excellent start. We are delighted that he is part of our football family.”
Alexander has college coaching experience at the University of Pittsburgh and Beloit College and Kent State. During his playing career as a linebacker for the Golden Flashes, he appeared in 40 career games with 114 tackles, 19.5 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks.
“I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to join the EMU team and continue to build on what Coach Creighton started,” Alexander added. “I’m looking forward to working with the defensive end unit as EMU has developed some really good players on the defensive line position in recent years.”
A Miami, Fla. native, he spent the last two seasons (2021-22) with Pitt working as a research assistant. There he worked directly with the defensive line in an aggressive quarter-back scheme. In addition, he coached the offensive scout team, working primarily with the offensive line, tight ends, running backs, and quarterbacks.
In 2022, he helped develop tackle Calijah Kancey, an unanimous Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All-American and Defensive Player of the Year. Kancey led the nation’s central defenders with 14.5 tackles for loss. He was the only player in the country selected as a 2022 finalist for both the Outland Trophy (country’s top central defender) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (national defender of the year).
The Panthers’ trademarks — a swarming pass rush and a smothering run defense — were on full display again in the 2022 season. The ball robbery unit also scored points on the scoreboard. Pitt ranked second nationally with an average of 3.69 sacks per game. The Panthers have accumulated 199 sacks over the past four seasons (2019-22), the nation’s highest total in that span.
Pitt limited opponents to an ACC low of 98.0 rushing yards per contest and ranked eighth nationally in run defense. Overall, the Panthers have finished in the nation’s top 12 as they stopped the run every year from 2019-22.
Pittsburgh’s defense also proved adept at producing points. The Panthers scored five defensive touchdowns in 2022 to lead the ACC and rank third nationally. Between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Pitt led the country in defensive touchdowns (10) and pick sixes (eight).
Pitt finished the tournament 9-4, including a rousing 37-35 win over nationally-ranked UCLA at the Sun Bowl. Pitt finished in the national top 25 for the second year in a row and ranked 22nd in both major polls. It was the first time Pitt had had top 25 finishes in consecutive years since 1979-83.
In 2021, Alexander worked with a defensive unit instrumental in the Panthers’ run to the 2021 ACC Championship and nationally finished second in sacks (3.86 average), sixth in rushing defense (89.3 average) and eighth in interceptions (16 overall).
It was a historic 2021 season as Pitt rushed to 11 wins and claimed his first straight conference title with a 45-21 triumph over Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game. Pitt was ranked 13th in the last polls in 2021, the highest result since 1982.
The Panthers have won 20 games combined over the past two seasons. Pitt last had 20 wins over a two-year period in 1981-82.
Alexander spent the fall of 2020 working as a linebackers graduate assistant for Kent State while transitioning to the defensive line graduate assistant in spring 2020. The 2019 Golden Flashes defeated Utah State 51-41 at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl. It was the first bowl win in Kent State history.
Alexander began his coaching career in 2018 at Division III Beloit College as a defensive line coach and video coordinator.
As a player, Alexander was a four-year letterman at Kent State from 2014 to 2017. As a senior, he paced the team in tackles for loss (10) and finished third with 62 stops.
In addition to his performance on the field, Alexander was also an excellent student. The MAC honored him as a “Distinguished Scholar Athlete”. He was also a three-time Academic All-MAC Team Selection and was inducted into the prestigious Hampshire Honor Society of the National Football Foundation.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2017 and a master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in global security from KSU in 2018.