Bobby Lewis, NewsOn6.com
Anyone who has had something taken away from them knows what Jake Alexander was feeling. The incoming freshman lineman from just down the road in Jenks was starting to make a name for himself before suffering a season-ending knee injury this time last year.
Instead of playing football in college, Alexander was forced to sit and watch.
"It was awful," Alexander said before the start of fall camp. "At times I didn't feel like I was part of the team because I didn't get to travel or really do anything."
While Alexander was stuck at home, Tulsa was out making team memories. The Golden Hurricane beat Notre Dame on a last-second interception in October. They went to Hawaii and won a bowl game on Christmas Eve. Tulsa ended the season 10-3 and narrowly missed out on a Conference-USA championship game appearance.
Alexander watched it all from afar.
"I had to listen to it on the radio or watch it on TV. It was pretty painful for me," he said. "So, it was quite an experience."
Missing all of that time made Alexander even more determined to make it back on the field. He rehabilitated his ACL tear and built back his strength. He worked in the training room with team doctors just as hard as he worked in the weight room with his teammates.
Now, 12 months after having the game he loves taken away from him, he's back on the field and fighting for playing time on the offensive line.
"It's actually stronger than it was before the injury," Alexander said of his knee. "I've gained 15 pounds and I'm stronger than I've ever been. I think I've just matured even though I didn't get to practice all year."
His teammates noticed his dedication during fall camp.
"Jake's a really talented player and he's been working his butt off," senior lineman Tyler Holmes said. "He's looking really good and is in position to compete this fall. With him, the sky's the limit."
Alexander said being able to go through spring football and learning the formations and plays has prepared him for time on the field this fall. He was granted a redshirt, meaning he still has four years of college eligibility left in his career.
He plans to make the most of is.
"I'm excited. I'm just ready to get the opportunity to play," he said.
After seeing the field on the road, Alexander will get a chance to play at H.A Chapman for the first time as a college player when his Golden Hurricane host the OSU Cowboys Saturday at 9 p.m.