Q&A with Rich Alexis
Oct. 25, 2000
Getting to start Saturday against California as a true freshman, how much did that mean to you?
Alexis: "Basically, when I came to the University of Washington, I expected a little bit of playing time, but to start, that meant a lot to me. It showed me that Coach Neuheisel really was a man of his word and he really wanted me to play this year. He told me I could play this year and so far everything has been going right for me."
What was the difference in the Cal game that didn't allow you to get as many yards as you had in previous games?
Alexis: "Every game is a different game. You are not going to rush for 100 yards or make a spectacular play every week. Every week is a different week, things don't always go the way you want them to go--that is football. Cal had a great defense though. The defensive line was very tough, every yard I got, I was getting hit from every direction. Pretty much I can say I earned every yard I got against Cal. Our offensive line did a great job too."
What were your thoughts coming into the Cal game after you rushed for 127 yards and caught three passes for 31 yards against Arizona State?
Alexis: "I just wanted to stay focused and execute the game plan and run hard. I wasn't trying to repeat what I had done the previous week, because what happened last week doesn't mean anything in this week's game. I just wanted to go out there, play hard and do the best that I can."
You recorded your first collegiate touchdown in the game against Miami with a 50-yard run. What did that mean to you being from Florida and just in general?
Alexis: "It meant a lot to me, not because it was against Miami, but because it was my first touchdown, a 50-yarder. My parents got to see it back home and I had family members up here. Everybody in the state of Florida got to see me that day. To score against Miami, a local college, was nice because they recruited me but not as a running back. They wanted me to play defensive back, because they were pretty loaded at running back. I decided not to go there because I didn't want to play defensive back."
You also recorded another big play against Arizona State, an 86-yard TD run. Describe that play?
Alexis: "What was called was a two hand back. It was for me to go to the right side and come back left. I went left and got a nice block from Patrick Reddick, then I split the defenders and just took off. I didn't know how far I was going, I just kept saying `I can't wait to get to the end zone' because I was going to run out of breath. I was tired. I just couldn't wait to get into the end zone."
Why did you choose to come to the University of Washington rather than go to a local Florida school like Miami?
Alexis: "I chose to come here because of the coaches. Every coach that I talked to from the University of Washington seemed very sincere. It seemed like they really wanted me to come here. They showed me I was wanted. The previous coaches I had talked to from other schools, said `Yes Rich, we want you here..." and that was it. But Coach Neuheisel, Coach Hauck and Coach Moses continued to call me and talk to me. They would just call me to say `What's up?' That is what made me come out here."
With your family being in Florida, have they gotten to see any other games besides the Miami game?
Alexis: "They have seen every game except the Cal game because they didn't play it back home. Other than that they have watched every game. Every time I set foot in my dorm I have at least three messages from my parents telling me how proud they are of me succeeding so far. They are just very happy right now. Everything I am doing here at the University of Washington is for them. I am not doing anything for myself. All I am doing is for my family back home, my mom and dad."
What do you mean you are playing for your family? Can you explain that?
Alexis: "Basically, it is because of my parents' background. When they left Haiti they left with nothing, so I came out here to try and succeed at the University of Washington and hopefully take it to the next level. Then, once I get to the next level, hopefully I can repay my parents and get them everything they ever wanted. That is why I came here, to get a great education and hopefully get a chance to go to the next level. But everything I am doing here is for my parents back home."
Because of your parents' Haitian background, how has the impacted you, and how you present yourself?
Alexis: "It helps me a lot. When you hear something about Haiti and you hear something a Haitian kid you don't expect him to be in the position that I am right now. I just want to make a good name for myself, and my whole country, my parents' country. There are not a lot of Haitian kids in the same position that I am. I want to be one of the first few to be successful so that other Haitian kids can see that I am trying to do something good and follow in my footsteps."
Speaking of your position, not a lot of true freshman get to start or even play a lot, what are your thoughts on that?
Alexis: "It is good (to be able to start as a freshman) if you can go out there and produce, but it is not good if you get out there and forget what you are doing and panic. If you are out there as a starter, producing and following the game plan, there is nothing wrong with a freshman starting. But if you are going out there and panicking because you are starting or are letting the starting role influence you or get in the way, it is not worth it. You just have to go out there and try to execute like you did the previous week. I am still going out there thinking I am the fourth-string running back just waiting to get into the game, waiting to play every opportunity I get and trying to make the best of it."
Other schools recruited you as a defensive back, has that helped you playing running back?
Alexis: "Running back was the only position I ever really played in high school. I didn't want to learn a whole new position. I just knew how to run the ball. That is what I think my strength is, running the ball. I don't think I could go out there and cover somebody or know where to break off a certain route. All I know is to run the ball and follow my blocks."
How hard is it to find a hole to run through, follow your blocks and concentrate on holding onto the ball at the same time?
Alexis: "Basically, you don't want to get hurt in the game, so you rely on the big boys in front of you to open the holes for you and you just follow them. Wherever they go, you want to go behind them. They are out to protect you and the quarterback. If I am going to get good yardage, I know I have to follow my blocks. If I don't follow my blocks, I end up getting hurt, getting hit hard or whatnot. I just try to follow my offensive line.
"It is very hard though. You have to hold onto the ball and also, you want to cut back or do certain things, but you can't. You have to free up your arms, but you also have to remember that the ball is in your hands. You basically have one arm to defend yourself. It is hard, but once you get into the end zone it is very exciting."
How is getting a touchdown now in college different from getting a touchdown in high school?
Alexis: "I appreciate getting touchdowns now because they are so hard to come about. In high school it seemed so easy to get a touchdown. Now at the college level, it is so hard to get a touchdown, you never know when you are going to get one. I am just fortunate enough to be able to have the ones I have so far. I thank the Lord that I was able to get those because I know how hard it is to get them at this level. The defenses are so quick, and everybody is 10 times bigger than they were in high school. I just have to thank the Lord for letting me get into the end zone."
You had an injury in 1999, what was the injury and how has the affected how you play now?
Alexis: "My injuries were a high ankle sprain and a hip pointer. They slowed me down a lot. After the season was over in high school, I rested up a little and played basketball. But everything seems to be fine now. I didn't watch anything about football at that time, I was basketball oriented."
Why did you choose football instead of basketball?
Alexis: "I chose football because in the future, if I get a chance to go on to the professional level, it would be easier for me to get into the NFL than the NBA. With my height, only being six foot, I would not have been looked at as much playing basketball, but being six foot in football I could be looked at a lot. That is why I picked football over basketball."
So, you are thinking about the future?
Alexis: "Pretty much, but I am not letting that get in the way of what I am trying to do right now. It is in my head though. That is the only reason I play. I don't play just to have fun after my four years are done, I play to get to the next level and have a great start in life with it."
What are the important things to you in your life?
Alexis: "God, because without him none of this would be possible, my family, my girlfriend and my friends."
How do you get ready and pumped up for a game?
Alexis: "I just sit down and concentrate, try to stay focused, and listen to music. Music gets you really hyped up for the game. I also picture myself doing something good in the game, running for a big yardage, breaking a tackle, etc. I just picture everything I want to do and ask the Lord to be out there with me."
What kind of music do you listen to before the game?
Alexis: "All the games so far, I have listened to Wyclef Jean, he is a Haitian himself. I listen to him a lot. I mix it up some, but pretty much if I want to get pumped up I listen to him because that is like my blood."
How hard is it being here with your family in Florida, being away from your blood?
Alexis: "It is really hard right now, because my sister just left me to go home. It is extremely hard being way out here on the West Coast with my family being back on the East Coast. When other players on the team talk about `I am going home for the weekend,' I am sad because I can't say that I am going home for the weekend. It hurts a lot. Sometimes I wish I could go back and forget about what I am doing here, but I know if I do that there is nothing back home for me. If I don't stay focused and do what I want to accomplish out here, and go home to Florida, there is nothing back there but my family."
Starting as a true freshman and being so successful, is there any question that each year you can live up to what you did the previous year?
Alexis: I am not trying to live up to anyone's expectations, I am just trying to go out there and be Rich Alexis. I am trying to go out there and play hard every time that I am out there on the field. I am not trying to break any records or be like Corey Dillon or Napoleon (Kauffman) or any of the other previous running backs. I am just trying to be Rich Alexis, and be out there, have fun, gain some good yards and help the team win."
Is this season so far what you expected from college football?
Alexis: "I didn't expect all of these last-minute victories, but that is the sign of a good team when you can do that. Hopefully we won't have to do that the next four games."
Any thoughts on the Stanford game yet?
Alexis: "I am ready to look at game tape, then whatever the game plan is, follow it and do the best that I can when I get my chance."
What do you do off the field to relax?
Alexis: "I usually call my little sister, she is eight years old. I talk to her for a little bit, she usually relaxes my mind. Then I put on some slow music in my room and fall asleep."
What do you do for fun?
Alexis: "I basically just relax in the dorms and watch TV. I usually watch game film from the previous games that I have played in just to watch them or I watch ESPN or something like that."
Do you keep track of how other teams are doing?
Alexis: "No, never. I am not worried about any other team besides the Washington Huskies."
What is your favorite food?
Alexis: "Barbecued ribs. My mom cooks them, my dad doesn't know what he is doing. I asked for that for Thanksgiving. I told her I do not want a turkey, I want ribs."
What is your favorite movie or the best one you have seen lately?
Alexis: "Right now, I would say "Remember the Titans" but it was "He Got Game." "Remember the Titans" is a football movie with a racial theme. The blacks and the whites weren't getting along and then they started to get along, so I liked that. "He Got Game" is a basketball oriented movie and I like basketball a lot."
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Alexis: "If I get a chance to play in the rest of the games, I just want to go out and play hard. Basically just run hard and do the best that I can."