Utah State Senior Defensive Backs Stay Together On and Off the Field
Dec. 19, 2013
LOGAN, Utah -
by Megan Allen, USU Athletic Media Relations
There are many things players are taught by their coaches that stick with them. These words of wisdom can be applicable in the middle of a football game as well as once they are out on their own.
"All you have is your name and your reputation." Those are the words of head coach Matt Wells that Utah State senior safety Maurice Alexander is constantly striving to remember. They are the words he lives by and the words that will stay with him well past his time at Utah State.
"I'm going to take that in the long run. It's important to me," Alexander said. "You can only represent your name and your reputation. That's all you've got and that rings in my head a lot."
While Alexander has been through a lot in his three years in Logan, he has made the best of it and tried to learn what he can from his experiences. After a brilliant start to his Aggie career in 2011, he took a year off to get back on track in his personal life. He has since surprised everyone with his triumphant return to the program.
"The team helped me for sure. My family helped a lot. That was a setback, but for sure a major comeback. I just love football, so I wasn't about to give up on it," Alexander said. "My coaching staff and my teammates encouraged me to come back and keep striving for my dream."
One of those who helped Alexander with his return was his close friend, teammate and roommate Tay Glover-Wright. With similar backgrounds and paths to Utah State, the pair has become close and are always there for each other.
"Maurice is a goofy kid. He's a completely different person when we're at home than he is on the football field. He was my host when I came here on my recruiting trip, so I've known him a long time," Glover-Wright said. "Him coming back was a good thing. There are always good vibes with us."
Both Glover-Wright and Alexander got their collegiate football careers started at the junior college level, both in Arizona. Alexander went from his hometown of St. Louis to Arizona Western in Yuma, while Glover-Wright left Smyrna, Ga. to Highland Community College in Kansas before landing at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.
"After high school, I wasn't a big time recruit. I was thinking about not even playing anymore. Then my mom told me about something called a junior college. A guy had called her wanting to talk about me. I'd never heard of junior college before. My mom thought it would be a good idea because she didn't just want me sitting home and working like a lot of people did back home," Glover-Wright said. "I talked to them for a minute, and they let me know that it was a second chance. It was a free education and a new experience in a different state."
From there, both were recruited by former USU associate head coach Bill Busch and they joined the Aggie family.
For Glover-Wright, the day Busch came to watch him play ended up being the perfect chance. His team was playing at Snow College, and though he'd played quarterback during the season, he found himself in the game at receiver. Midway through the game, he ran 90 yards for a touchdown, catching the eye of Busch.
"The next day, he came out to practice and talked to me and offered me. After that moment, I was always here for Coach Busch," Glover-Wright said. "I was getting calls from other schools, but they weren't as persistent as Coach Busch. He showed me he cared and that he would do whatever it took to get me here on time for the season."
That care and attention was also the draw Alexander had to Utah State.
"I started getting recruited a little bit, but Utah State caught my eye. I talked to Coach Busch and committed because of the coaching staff," Alexander said. "I loved them and had a good, quick connection with them. They showed me that they care about you as a player off the field and academically."
Once they got to Logan, both Alexander and Glover-Wright began to prove to the coaches that they had made a good decision with their abilities and their versatility.
"I felt like I had to come in and prove myself. I was new and wasn't getting as much playing time as I was used to. I was used to being a starter right off the bat. That's just not the way it went," Glover-Wright said. "I had to come in and work. I worked my way into different packages all the way up to a starting position."
Once the staff had an idea of what they had in Glover-Wright, they began to really see what he was capable of and took advantage of who he was as an athlete.
Having played quarterback and receiver his entire life, Glover-Wright found himself on the defensive side of the ball at cornerback. However, when Adam Kennedy went out with an injury, he was back at quarterback as the backup to Chuckie Keeton. This season, it was back to the secondary, with the occasional glimpse at the offense he had been so familiar with.
"Going back and forth to quarterback with a chance to be behind the center again is fun to me. It's just like going back to childhood," he said. "I have fun, and I'm glad I get the opportunity to do it every once in awhile."
Alexander has also had experience at different positions. He started his time at USU as a linebacker, but upon his return in 2013, he switched over to safety.
"It was a team need. We've got great linebackers, and we have good safeties. Wherever I'm needed is where I'll play," he said. "I started playing safety and really liked it."
As they have adjusted to the Division I level of collegiate football, they've discovered the significant differences between the two and realized that it really is a whole new ball game.
"In Division I football everything is put together. Everybody knows they have a role on the team and that they have something to do for the team to be successful," Glover-Wright said. "In junior college, everybody was just fending for themselves."
Though they got to Logan just as the program was finally starting to turn around and head in the positive direction it continues today, the pair has played a large part in that process.
"I wasn't here for the big part of the struggle, I got here right after for that first winning season," Alexander said. "Seeing the coaches and players faces when we made it to a bowl game and winning those seven games was a great experience."
Now, the team is playing in a bowl game for the third season in a row. In the first season in the Mountain West, the Aggies went undefeated on the road in conference games and played in the inaugural Mountain West Championship game.
It's no secret though, that the 2013 campaign has not gone nearly like anyone hoped or planned. With unexpected injuries, the team has had to come together to make everything work in spite of the setbacks. When people may have thought the season to be over, the team didn't hesitate and continued in the strong direction they'd always planned on.
"We just had to wrap our arms around the players that came in backing up the players who got injured," Alexander said. "Coach (Matt) Wells has been telling us the whole season that we were going to have adversity. It happened, but we never put our heads down. We just continue to practice hard and study film and continue to win."
While the team works toward its goal of a bowl win, Alexander and Glover-Wright are doing everything they can individually to contribute and get to that point.
"My goals are a weekly thing. I just want to become better at the position that I'm in," Glover-Wright said. "I want to have the best game of my life this week. Then next week, I'll want to have the best game of my life."
While it's obvious the pair wants to help the team do well and wants to succeed on their own, both players are set on doing what they do for their families back home.
"What drives me is my mom back home. She goes through a struggle back there, and it just drives me to be a better person and a better player on the field," Alexander said. "Every time I come into the football facility, my mom is on my mind. She's my biggest motivation."
Glover-Wright has a similar motivation, working for his mom and siblings, seeking to prove himself and set an example for them.
"My motivation and drive is back home with my mom and my sisters and brothers. I'm the oldest one of five. I live with my mom and sisters when I go back home, so I'm kind of like the man of the house," he said. "Being the oldest, I just feel like I have to set the example for them, not necessarily in just football, but with going to college and graduating and going on after that."
As seniors, Glover-Wright and Alexander recognize the role they play and the numbers of players looking up to them as they start their careers.
"My role is being a leader to my position group. I've got to set a good example to the young bucks," Alexander said. "I need to be a good leader and be accountable."
Though it's not the most comfortable of things for him, Glover-Wright is in the middle of it all, helping lead the way among the cornerbacks.
"I'm kind of the new kid on the block. This is my first year really playing corner, but as a senior I'm expected to be able to lead," he said. "I'm not much of a vocal leader, so I just try to do what I've got to do. I take care of business and lead by example."
As they get closer to graduation, Alexander this December and Glover-Wright next May, these student-athletes are trying to make the most of the time they have left and learn all they can.
"I want to spend more time with my teammates," Alexander said. "This is my last year, so I want to have lasting relationships with them."
Glover-Wright is taking the lessons of discipline and hard work that have gotten him through his collegiate career with him to the world outside of football.
"I've learned skills in time management, being able to own up to my mistakes and responsibility," he said. "Those are things that coaches have talked to me about all the time. Those are things that are going to stick with me. When you get out in the real world, no one is going to want to deal with you if you can't be on time or keep your word."
With just a few weeks remaining in their time at Utah State, Glover-Wright and Alexander are ready to move forward with the experience they've had as Aggies. As they progress through their lives, they are determined to represent their names and reputations in the best way they can.