MOBILE, Ala. — Bursting out of his stance on this particular running play, Vadal Alexander sprinted toward the second level of the defense, his eyes searching for the linebacker he’s assigned to block.
He found him and, oh, the memories came flooding back.
“I see a yellow helmet,” Alexander said, “and I was like, ‘Here we go again.’ ”
Alexander crashed into linebacker Deion Jones — two former LSU teammates colliding during a practice rep on a football field. That’s old hat to a pair that spent four years as Tigers battling in practice.
“Back like fall camp,” Jones said afterward, flashing a wide smile. “I missed him.”
The two were reunited during the South team’s first practice at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday afternoon in Fairhope, Alabama, a small town on Mobile Bay about 18 miles southeast of the city.
Things were much different than those hot August days in Baton Rouge at the Charles McClendon practice fields — aside from Alexander, Jones and defensive back Jalen Mills donning their LSU helmets.
It was cool and rainy on Tuesday.
There were observers, too. Hundreds of NFL scouts, assistants and head coaches wrapped themselves around the Fairhope Municipal football field, and more sat in the bleachers — like New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Even college staff members were there — like Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
Alexander was paving the way — not for Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice — for ex-Alabama running back Kenyan Drake and blocking for former Bama quarterback Jacob Coker and former Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott, a Louisiana native.
Awkward, right? For Alexander, it’s the first of many steps to the NFL draft, scheduled for April 28-30.
“It’s like a new start,” Alexander said. “It’s a new journey, the beginning of a new journey. Just like when I came to LSU, man, getting your feet wet.”
Alexander, who weighed in Tuesday morning at 336 pounds and measured 6-foot-5½, flashed the stuff Tuesday afternoon that makes him a possible second-round draft pick, at least according to CBSSports.com. He is ranked as second-best guard in the 2016 draft, according to the site.
Alexander started Tuesday’s practice at right tackle — where he played for LSU last season — before coaches moved him to right guard. He battled some of the nation’s best during the two-hour practice, clashing with Alabama defensive linemen Jarran Reed, BYU’s Bronson Kaufusi and Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spencer.
Reed is a first-round projection.
Welcome to the Senior Bowl.
“It’s what I expected,” Alexander said. “It’s a meat market, every scout you can imagine. Then, on the field, guys are talented everywhere.”
Alexander met with representatives of 20 of the 32 NFL teams since arriving in Mobile on Sunday, he said Tuesday afternoon. He’ll have more meetings throughout the week leading up to Saturday’s game, set for 1:30 p.m. from Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
He gets peppered with questions from NFL representatives.
“Where I can play. Where I believe I can play. How I learn,” he said of the inquiries. “Give them my concept of offense we have at LSU.”
This week in south Alabama is a respite from the grueling daily training regimen Alexander has endured for the past three weeks in Arizona. He’s up by 6:30 a.m., eats an all-organic breakfast and then is put through what he calls “five-a-days.”
You know the two-a-days LSU players experience each August? Alexander is doing twice that. He has four or five 70-minute weight-lifting or agility/running sessions each day — every one separated by a 90-minute rest, snack session or a lunch.
“I get home around 7 p.m. and take a shower,” Alexander said. “I might catch “SportsCenter” for 30 minutes. Talk to my parents, sister or something and I’m asleep by 9.”
His dad, contacted Tuesday afternoon, laughs.
“There’s no Popeye’s or anything like that,” James Alexander said.
“The thing is that Vadal has prepared all of his life for this. This is the first time that Vadal, in all his life, has not had to go to class,” James continued. “It’s basically something he’s prepared his entire life for. He’s always wanted to play in the NFL. I think he’s seizing the moment right now and taking advantage of his opportunities.”
Even if they do include some old friends.
Jones and Mills, both defensive players, were seen during practice Tuesday chatting, high-fiving and laughing. That wasn’t the case with Jones and Alexander, who clashed a host of times as the South team scrimmaged.
“During practice,” Mills said, “they weren’t really talking a lot but after practice, they had their words.”
“We locked up, driving with each other to win the block,” Alexander said. “It’s like, ‘What’s up, big guy?’ ‘What’s up Debo?’ ”
Toward the end of a one-on-one pass-rushing drill Tuesday, Alexander dropped into his three-point stance across from former Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman, a hulking, tall, chiseled specimen who’s physique resembles something from a video game.
Oakman dropped into his four-point stance, both players awaiting the whistle.
Instead, a horn boomed. That portion of drills had ended. No more.
Oakman erupted in anger as Alexander jogged to a different drill.
“I was ready, I was ready for him,” Alexander said. “I was like, ‘Let me get this last rep.’ They didn’t let me get it.”
Alexander smiles. “We have two more days.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.