Cooper prospect likes what he sees at UK

Published 10:35 am Friday, January 12, 2024

By Larry Vaught

Contributing Columnist

One of the top in-state football players in the 2025 class —and highly-regarded national player — Cooper linebacker/tight end Austin Alexander.

Email newsletter signup

Last season when Cooper went 12-3 and lost to Bowling Green in the Class 5A state title game, he had 67 catches for 1,138 yards and 19 touchdowns. On defense he had 57 tackles, 24 assists, 19 sacks, eight tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries and one interception he returned 75 yards.

His sophomore season he had 54 solo tackles, 31 assists, 11 sacks, two tackles for loss, one interception and a blocked kick along with 34 catches for 522 yards and six scores.

Alexander has over 20 scholarship offers including Kentucky, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Purdue.

His sister, Maleah, plays basketball for Cooper, one of the state’s top five teams, and while watching her play recently at Bullitt East, I got to talk to Austin Alexander’s father, Durran, about his future.


Question: Are you surprised by what your son Austin has already done football-wise?

Alexander: “In the one sense yes a little bit. You never know how your kid is going to be able to perform and have an opportunity to play well but overall he has put in so much work. He has been very, very dedicated to working out and what he eats. He is not a big video game kid, so he is definitely able to get the reward for work he puts in.”


Question: How proud are you of the season he had to help Cooper get to the Class 5A state championship game?

Alexander: “Absolutely. We really enjoy the high school where we are and the coaching staff has been great. They had a feeling they had enough talent there to be able to put it together and to finally get a chance to do that and go that far was awesome.”


Question: Austin seems to be enjoying recruiting but are you and your wife also enjoying it so far?

Alexander: “We are. There is no exact science. We are trying to work through it the best we can. It is very cool to be wanted. We are just trying to even help out other people who ask us about it by telling them what we have learned that might help you and your son move forward.”


Question: Would you and your wife like him to stay relatively close to home to play his college football or is distance not a concern?

Alexander: “Honestly where he plays doesn’t matter. We are willing to go wherever. For him, it’s going to be big on the coach and the relationships with the coaching staff. Even as a parent and sports fan, you are turning your son over to these men you are hoping will lead them in the right direction. You start to look at those things more as opposed to it has to be this team or this conference.”


Question: What do you think about Kentucky since you have already visited several times?

Alexander: “We are from northern Kentucky. We grew up Kentucky fans. It is exciting to see the direction the football team has been going. We really enjoy Lexington. It has been fun to be down there for sure.”


Question: How does Shaun Alexander’s older brother grow up a Kentucky fan in Florence even though Shaun was an All-American at Alabama?

Alexander: “It is funny, right. I am a year older and I went to Notre Dame and was in the band. Bro found Alabama. Even Shaun is what winds up being the best is great for him (Austin). If it winds up being Kentucky, it doesn’t matter.”


Question: Can Shaun help with any recruiting advice since he was such a high profile recruit himself?

Alexander: “He is more helpful in guidance and here are some factors I looked at in my recruiting. Obviously the landscape has changed so much but he can help him not get caught up or lost in it has to be this name or that name. Let where you feel the most at home or who wants you the most be what factors in the decision.”


Question: How do you handle NIL potential as a parent with numbers being thrown around that some athletes even in high school are making?

Alexander: “One, just the thought of that kind of huge money you hear about as a college student is insane. We have not entered that realm at all. No one has hit us with that kind of handshake or envelope (of money). It is the nature of what it is now. A long time ago you visited a college, got to go to a game and then you made your decision. Now recruiting is starting earlier and earlier. There are some great things out there and it is cool for families and kids who need that and they can now make some money off the money they are generating for these schools. The flip side is there will always be people who abuse and don’t know how to use it. I just hope for all those kids they do the right things to protect themselves so they don’t get smacked with taxes and get themselves or their parents in trouble by getting too caught up looking at the flashy objects.”


Question: Is Austin right that his sister, Maleah, is actually the best athlete in the family since she is the all-time leader in goals and assists for the Cooper soccer team and a standout on the basketball team headed to Liberty University for college?

Alexander: “That’s right. He’s a phenomenal athlete but we are very fortunate that they both are. Maleah is great in basketball, great in soccer. It has been very cool that they both support each other so well and it does make for a happy home that they both have the opportunity to be great at something and then cheer for your sibling. They hang out. They share some classes. They like a lot of the same things. That part makes it fun. We know what it is like not to get along or not realize how fortunate you are to have a relationship with a sibling until you get much older so they are very fortunate to enjoy their time together now which is great.”