To help get you through college football’s slow days of late June and early July — before conference media days launch the preseason festivities — we’re counting down the 12 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 12 most important Clemson Tigers for 2013. One Gamecock and one Tiger every day, so you can spend part of your summer studying the players who will make a difference for your team come autumn.
CLEMSON’S NO. 8 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
MACKENSIE ALEXANDER, FRESHMAN, CORNERBACK
Clemson’s recruiting class of 2010 featured Bashaud Breeland, Martin Jenkins, Garry Peters and Darius Robinson. Only Breeland was a four-star prospect per Scout.com; the others were three stars. All four are between 5-10 and 6-foot tall; all four are between 175 and 195 pounds.Peters had plenty of opportunities in last year’s repaired defense, in part because Breeland, Jenkins and Robinson all combatted injury.Breeland did have two interceptions for 93 yards total in the 2011 season; other than that, the quartet has a combined four picks for eight return yards, with one fumble recovery and no forced fumbles, in 97 career games. Seven turnovers in 97 games. None are what you would call, based on their collective track record, an impact player at cornerback.
It’s completely reasonable Alexander cracks the lineup early in his rookie year, perhaps even from day one. (LSU’s defense does just fine installing young corners.) Not only can Alexander make plays, he’s a gifted cover corner and tackler, which is notable as the Tigers look to boost their 73rd-rated pass defense.
Don’t forget Alexander’s name among special teams contributors, as well.
Hometown: Immokalee, Fla.
Last year: The No. 4-rated prospect in the country by ESPN’s recruiting services, the highest rating by a Clemson commit since defensive end Da’Quan Bowers in 2008
COMING MONDAY: No. 7