COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- For some players, the college years are a smooth highway that leads to the NFL. In the case of Missouri wide receiver Danario Alexander, it's been closer to a long, winding, country road.
Alexander was a second-team All-American his senior year, far exceeding expectations after three injury-plagued seasons. Heading into the Tigers' Texas Bowl matchup against Navy Dec. 31, he leads major college wide receivers with 1,644 yards, is second with 107 receptions and tied for fifth with 13 touchdowns.
"I did say on press day that he was potentially a great player, and he's surpassed what I expected from him," coach Gary Pinkel said. "I think his confidence level has grown tremendously."
The first three seasons, the 6-5, 215-pound Alexander totaled 78 catches for 997 yards and eight scores. Coaches would have been happy merely keeping him healthy the entire season.
Instead, he's building credibility for the NFL draft.
"I just want to show that I feel I can be the most complete receiver in the draft," Alexander said. "I can do everything, whether it's catching the ball, running the ball, blocking. There's nothing I lack as a receiver."
Alexander has changed the mind of at least one NFL decision-maker. St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney was not overly impressed when he saw Alexander early in this season.
"When I was there he may have been 75-80 percent. I still don't think he's 100 percent, that's what's scary," Devaney said. "Shoot, the way he's played the guy's been off the charts good. We have to go back and re-do the guy."
Alexander has topped 200 yards receiving in three of Missouri's last four games, the latest a 15-catch, 233-yard showing in the Tigers' last-second victory over Kansas.
"Obviously, there's not too many people that have figured it out, so I'm not sure what we can do to stop him," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "The thing that's amazing when I watch him on tape is that everyone knows how good he is and people try to scheme things, but they still find ways to get him the football and he's still able to make big plays."
The Texas Bowl, played in Houston, is the closest the Tigers have gotten to Alexander's hometown of Marlin, Texas. He's hoping for big support from his hometown faithful.
"Marlin has about 6,000 people, you can fit my whole city into Reliant Stadium," he said. "It's pretty funny, and I'll be appreciative of whoever comes."
Whoever shows up better not blink when Alexander gets the football. He has nine catches of over 50 yards, seven of which went for touchdowns. Four of those were 70-plus yard touchdowns.
"The thing about Danario is that he runs to score," offensive coordinator Dave Yost said. "Every time he gets the ball he's thinking about getting it to the end zone."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)