Donnie Alexander knows he’s not 100 percent healthy.
That doesn’t matter.
“I don’t try to let that affect me,” LSU’s projected starting inside linebacker said in an interview last week. “I have to be a leader for the guys.”
Alexander, a senior from New Orleans, is playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder, he said, and he’ll have it surgically repaired after spring practice. In February, The Advocate reported the impending surgery and that Alexander was expected to be limited during spring.
Plans changed. In fact, he’s not limited at all, he said.
“I’m going full,” he said. “I’m all out. I’m doing as much as I can right now.”
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Coaches put off his surgery until after the spring game on April 22. Surgery for a torn labrum is a somewhat speedy process. In fact, guard Will Clapp underwent a similar procedure in mid-January. He’s practicing in a limited role 10 weeks later.
Alexander wanted to fully participate in all of spring, he said, mostly to teach the younger players and “because we’re going to be installing some new stuff,” he said. Aranda’s second spring is different than his first in that he's emphasizing certain aspects and sprinkling in new concepts, layering them on top of what Alexander's already digested.
“It’s kind of like new stuff,” Alexander said, “but all of it relates (to old stuff).”
"Last year, we were learning basic stuff," added Devin White, the projected starter at inside linebacker next to Alexander. "Now we’ve got the basics stuff in and he can add onto it. Aranda, he’s a mastermind."
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Another reason to put off surgery: Alexander's role this upcoming season is expected to be significant. He and White are the only two scholarship inside linebackers on the roster.
During practice, Alexander wears a noticeable brace on the right shoulder to keep it stabilized. It’s an old high school injury that he re-aggravated this past season. Players often play through torn labrums, a cup-shaped rim of cartilage that lines and reinforces the ball and socket joint of the shoulder.
Clapp played with his through the entirety of last season before January surgery. In less than a month, Alexander’s will be fixed, too.
“Got to get that repaired,” he said.