Player Profile: Junior Guard Alex Fletcher
Nov. 1, 2007
East Coast native Alex Fletcher has finally started to feel right at home on the West Coast, both on and off the field. When Fletcher came to Stanford in 2004 out of Old Brookville, New York, he seemed a bit like a fish out of water but much has changed.
'Coming to Stanford has been eye-opening,' says Fletcher. 'I had an East Coast mentality in terms of football, school and just about everything else. Sometimes, I rubbed people the wrong way. But, it's helped me coming to West Coast. I see people a little differently and have really started to enjoy my time out here.'
It took a little while for Fletcher to feel this way.
The highly recruited prep All-American from St. Anthony's High School chose Stanford over many other potential suitors, including currently top-ranked USC. Fletcher made an immediate impact on the team's offensive line during his redshirt freshman season in 2004 by winning the Greg Piers Award as the club's Most Outstanding Offensive Service Team player.
The following season, he jumped right into the starting lineup and stayed there for the next 20 games until an injury finally forced him off the field for the final three contests of 2006.
He managed to stand out as one of the few bright spots on a much-maligned offensive line that often took the heat for an offense that sputtered much of the time. Fletcher earned honorable mention freshman All-American and First Team Freshman All-Pac-10 honors in 2005 before putting together another solid season in 2006.
Despite some of his individual success, things weren't quite right.
'I really was not able to express my personality on the field until this year,' explains Fletcher. 'I'm a guy who plays from whistle to whistle. I talk to the opponent, and I'm very into the game. I'm more loose this year and not afraid to make mistakes.'
Fletcher credits his newfound comfort level on the field to first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, who he claims has allowed him to express his true self on the field.
'I have a personality similar to coach Harbaugh,' says Fletcher. 'He is a competitor. I feel like he's on the field with me stride for stride. He's really part of the game and if we lose he takes it really hard just like we do as players. We're all a team - coaches and players - and take equal ownership.'
Fletcher admits that the team concept had sometimes eluded him during the early stages of his Stanford career.
'I've learned that it's not just about you planting your guy,' explains Fletcher. 'The five offensive linemen have to work together as a unit. This is the first year I can honestly that we've done that. We've got a little better each week.'
The truth is that the Fletcher and his front line teammates have shown marked improvement over last year, limiting the number of sacks and allowing the Cardinal's running game to improve by almost 40 yards per game.
Fletcher has learned a few other things off the field during his time on The Farm as well.
'I've learned that some of the things you can do and say in New York, you can't do and say here,' laughs Fletcher. 'Some of my friends in New York have wondered what has happened to me. They say I'm more chill, but out here on the West Coast I'm considered anything but that.'
He still may not be considered chill by West Coast standards but the differences off the field are noticeable.
'I'm a little more laid back now,' says Fletcher with a sheepish grin. 'When I drive, I let people cross the street. I don't honk my horn as much.'
The West Coast may be quieting him down a little off the field, but on it he's making more noise than ever.