SEATTLE -- The coaching staff assembled by Chris Petersen at Washington has brought an old band back together. That extends to a former safety who played under Petersen at Boise State from 2002-06, Gerald Alexander. After a five year career in the NFL playing for Detroit, Jacksonville, Miami, Carolina and the New York Jets, Alexander has embarked on his second career.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The path to coaching has been one that has been both humbling and eye-opening after his realization that his playing days were over. After he was released by the Jets in March 2012 he kept working out hoping to land a tryout.
At the same time he decided to volunteer at his former high school Rancho Cucamonga which really opened his eyes to coaching.
"I had just finished with the Jets and been released and I was trying to stay in shape and hopefully catch a tryout," Alexander told Realdawg.com. "But during that season  I was volunteering at my high school in California at Rancho Cucamonga. When you’re a free agent you don’t have a job so you have a lot of time to yourself but I really developed a passion for coaching and teaching and it really helped me bring some closure to my playing career."
He suffered a neck injury in October of 2008 which began decline of his playing career. He signed on with Jacksonville, Carolina, Miami and the Jets following his time in Detroit which allowed him to see the game from several different points of view.
"It helped a lot," he said of the experience he had in the NFL."As frustrating as that is [injuries] as a player I was able to learn five different ways of doing things. I was able to play for some very respectable coordinators that are in the game defensively like Jack Del Rio when I played in Jacksonville and Rob Marinelli when I played in Detroit."
Another unique reunion for Alexander at Washington is with his former defensive backs coach when he was in Detroit, Jimmy Lake. He was also someone who Alexander seeked advice from once he got the offer to be a graduate assistant from Petersen.
The offer from Petersen came at a unique time, after his former head coach Bryan Harsin had offered him the same position at Boise State.
"I was here at Arkansas State last year with Bryan Harsin and I was the defensive GA. With the whole transition of him going to Boise State I was all slated to go to Boise State with him and join them in the same role," he said.
"Then coach Petersen reached out. I have a history with obviously me playing with him but more so the secondary coach Jimmy Lake who was my secondary coach when I played with the Detroit Lions. So the opportunity there came up to be a graduate assistant there at Washington and there you have it."
In between the Boise State and Washington offers Alexander was interviewed for a full time position at Arkansas State. Once opportunity to reunite with Lake and learn from a coach like Petersen it was just too much to pass up.
"It was difficult but there’s a lot of factors that play into that obviously with me being a Boise State alum. The opportunity to be at Washington with coach Petersen and that staff who I know so well, you can’t learn from a better bunch.
"Chris Petersen and the respect that I have for him and a lot of his peers do and being able to learn from a guy like that was something I couldn’t pass up."
Alexander will be the defensive graduate assistant at Washington. He started 38 games in his time at Boise State before graduating with a degree in communications.
The Detroit Lions selected in him in the second round No.61 overall in the 2007 NFL Draft.
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