Rivals.com - Rivals100 DT Keithian Alexander is eligible for Denton Ryan
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Rivals100 DT Keithian Alexander is eligible for Denton Ryan

Keithian Alexander, the No. 1-ranked 2022 defensive tackle in the South Central region on Rivals, has finally been green-lighted to make his 2020 debut.

Alexander, who has transferred from Terrell High to Dallas Skyline from his freshman to sophomore years, has since found a home at Denton (Texas) Ryan High School. He sat out the first half of the season until being ruled eligible immediately for Friday's contest against The Colony.

Alexander, known affectionately at "Big Bear," was a seventh-grade football player that didn't envision a future in the sport a possibility before he encountered Tony Jones.

Jones saw the potential in Alexander, but took notice that his current environment wasn't conducive to conducive to certain aspirations. Over the past four years Jones became a mentor to Alexander, a like-minded football coach and subsequently, a father figure.

"You've got to think ... I was a kid that wasn't interested in football. It wasn't the past I was gonna take. My life was going downhill and he recognized that. He saw the potential and thought, 'I could be special if someone believed in him,'" Alexander recalled. "I met him around my seventh-grade year and he was able to fix me, patch me up and he asked me if I wanted to be a grown-up or a kid. I wanted to be a kid and we've forged a father-son relationship since. He's always been a friend of the family and looked out for what's best for me."

Jones is a longtime Dallas-area football coach that has spent time Terrell, Skyline and Billy Ryan, among others. He knows the game and understands young athletes even better.

What he saw in Alexander has yielded double-digit college scholarship offers midway through his junior year, but his role as a father figure has made this relationship all the more rewarding.

"He's made my life way more easy," Alexander explained. "He's made it safe. He's made to where I can take of school and football and he can take care of everything else.

"This offseason, Jones accepted a teaching position at Ryan, where he's previously coached and has well-established relationships inside the football program. Naturally, Alexander followed suit and added an interior force to a defensive front that features Rivals100 defensive end Ja'Tavion Sanders, a Texas commitment, and a secondary headlined by the nation's No. 1 athlete Billy Bowman Jr., who recently committed to Oklahoma.

The Class 5A-Division I state championship runners-up got stronger on-the-field, but Alexander has seen benefits from another perspective.

"They're competing for a national championship. Being around Bowman and Sanders, the best defensive line coach in the state in Coach (Aaron) De La Torre, and being at Ryan, it's great. It's a new start," Alexander raved. "It's a great program and I'm gonna get pushed to maximum expense. It's great prep for college."

"They're helping me prep mentally and they're gonna help me physically prep for the next level. I'm 100-percent positive of that. My pops (Jones) has been there before. It's not a new school we're getting a feel for because we have relationships there."

Following Jones to Ryan was a no-brainer.

Without him, Alexander suggested he wouldn't be in the conversation as one of the nation's top defensive tackles. He may not even be playing the game he's grown so fond of in recent years.

"Not at all," Alexander answered when asked if he'd be playing football without Jones in his life at the moment.

And if not for football, Alexander wouldn't have the vast array of different offers that he's currently mulling over and contemplating ahead of his junior year. He named Ohio State, Texas A&M, Clemson, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas and Georgia as top schools he's regularly speaking with.

Jones discussed the push from those schools recently with Rivals here.