When Wisconsin-Whitewater running back Alex Peete watches game film, he has a specific pattern.
“I’ll watch the good plays first as a confidence builder,” said the Johnsburg graduate, who helped Whitewater advance to the NCAA Division III semifinals last season by piling up 1,368 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.
From there, he turns to the bad plays and a strong critique from his running backs coach, Ryan Givens.
“Coach Givens is very critical,” Peete said. “He’s 100 percent honest with how he coaches. He’ll tell me, ‘That’s not a semifinal cut right
Although difficult to hear at times, the criticism is part of making Peete a better player.
“He wants me to see that I can always get better,” Peete said.
Heading into his junior season, Peete is focused on getting better and getting his team to the Stagg Bowl, D-III’s national championship game.
Street & Smith’s 2019 college football preview magazine took notice of Peete’s breakout sophomore season, naming him a first-team preseason All-American.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “It reflects the work that I’ve put in. It also shows my decision was pretty good on where to go to college.”
Peete surpassed 100 yards in seven games last season for Whitewater (13-1) and was especially productive in the postseason. In four playoff games, he posted at least 100 yards three times to go with six touchdowns.
Peete said his goal this fall is improving his numbers from a season ago by making more long runs and being in top physical shape.
His longest run last season was
56 yards, and Peete said he was stopped on two runs that could have been at least 80 yards. Peete’s second-longest run a year ago was 37 yards.
“I’ve got to read a little further into the play as I’m running – seeing maybe one or two extra defenders,” he said. “I want to work on my second-level cuts and seeing more grass. You can’t just outrun people. You can’t just juke people, not in college.”
This summer, Peete is working out with teammates in Whitewater and has added 10 pounds from a year ago, when he played at 200 pounds.
“I feel my body getting bigger, but I’m comfortable,” he said. “My speed is still there, and my cuts are fine. It’s definitely a next step for my body.”
Peete and the Warhawks also feel comfortable as a national championship contender. Four of last year’s five starting offensive linemen return in front of Peete, who had 65 yards in a semifinal loss to Mary Hardin-Baylor, which went on to win the Stagg Bowl.
“It definitely motivates us a lot,” Peete said. “We know now that we’ve been there before, and we’re ready to take that next step. We know how semifinal football is. It prepared us.”
DuPage dandy: Huntley grad Nick Laxner is a top relief pitcher this summer for the DuPage Pistol Shrimp of the collegiate wood bat Prospect League.
Laxner, who plays at Kankakee Community College, leads the team with two saves and has struck out
11 batters in nine innings. The Pistol Shrimp (16-13) are in their first season in the Prospect League.
During the college season in the spring, Laxner was 5-2 as a starting pitcher with two complete games for KCC. He struck out 7.76 batters per nine innings.
Brown delivers for CMU: Central Michigan University distance runner Julianna Brown (Crystal Lake South) set 5,000- and 10,000-meter career bests this spring during the outdoor track season for the Chippewas.
Brown’s best 10K time of 38:32.95 took place in April during a meet at Michigan’s Hillsdale College. A month earlier, she posted a career-best 5K time of 18:15.65 during a meet at Vanderbilt University.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.