Fifty down, fifty to go. You’re up, Bon Jovi:
Unfortunately for offenses opposing Florida State’s defense in the early 90s, there wasn’t much of a prayer to live on, and a big part of that was defensive end Derrick Alexander. A Jacksonville recruit, Alexander made his way to Tallahassee in 1991 and redshirted before beginning to contribute in 1992.
But the Seminoles’ national title season of 1993 is when Alexander really announced himself on the national scene— and it didn’t take long. In FSU’s opener against Kansas in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Alexander was part of the epic goal-line stand that preserved Florida State’s shutout win over the Jayhawks.
Alexander and the ’93 defense authored four shutouts that season, tied for the most in program history, including one against 17th-ranked Clemson. But he saved his best for last, recording career-highs with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss against Nebraska in the national championship game.
After his breakout season, Alexander was named a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and the American Football Coaches Association, a second-teamer per the UPI, and a third-teamer according to the AP. He was also a sophomore All-America selection by Football News, in addition to being a first-team All-ACC pick.
1994 saw Alexander up his game even further, as he maintained his first-team All-ACC status while also being named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and helping FSU to its third of nine consecutive conference crowns. The FWAA again awarded him first-team All-America honors, as did Walter Camp and the AP. He earned second-team recognition from the UPI and The Sporting News, and gained an Honorable Mention from Scripps Howard. Oh, and Florida State shutout Clemson again.
Alexander chose to forego his final year of eligibility, and for good reason: the Minnesota Vikings made him a first-round pick in the 1995 NFL Draft, the 11th selection, overall. He was the first of 10 ’Noles taken in that draft, ahead of fellow first-round picks Devin Bush and Derrick Brooks. In 2007, Alexander was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame.