The Clemson Tigers‘ crown of their 2013 recruiting class was cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who was rated as the nation’s No. 2 cornerback. He was slated as an immediate contributor to a secondary looking for more athleticism and playmaking potential.
But shortly into fall camp, Alexander suffered a groin injury that has sidelined him and prevented him from practicing fully and seeing the field. With Alexander not yet seeing the field and four veterans corners ahead of the curve, it may mean the freshman corner has to take a redshirt.
And the coaches need to do just that.
Just as Clemson redshirted junior Martin Jenkins last season after he suffered his sports hernia injury, head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff would be wise to keep the talented Florida native on the shelf to get fully healthy for 2014, rather than wait and try to put him on the field when he’s not going to be 100 percent. This was the case with fellow freshman Marcus Edmond, who, because of the play of Bashaud Breeland, Garry Peters, Darius Robinson and Jenkins, was redshirted even though he could have seen action in 2013.
Redshirting Alexander, tough as it may be given his kind of potential, is in the best interest of the team. He can’t make an impact from the sidelines. And it won’t be the first time such talent has been redshirted. Quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Roderick McDowell, linebacker Spencer Shuey and defensive end Vic Beasley are just several examples of players who redshirted when they potentially could have played their freshman seasons.
There is no need to waste Alexander’s freshman season on the sidelines. Unless there was an indication that he could be back healthy by the Tigers’ matchup against Florida State, which seems very unlikely at this point, Alexander’s goal should be to get healthy for 2014. The coaching can continue to prepare him as if to play in case of injury, but for now, redshirting should be the best-case scenario for the 2013 cornerback out of Immokalee, Fla.