GLENDALE, Ariz. – Clemson redshirt sophomore cornerback Mackensie Alexander will attempt to play tonight’s College Football Playoff national championship game with an injured hamstring, according to sources.
A source who spoke with Alexander Monday said the Tigers’ top cover corner indicated “he is not 100 percent.” The official word from Clemson is Alexander will be tested in pregame warmups before determining if he is healthy enough to play.
Alexander suffered a knee injury Nov. 14 at Syracuse, and left the Orange Bowl vs. Oklahoma Dec. 31 with cramping in his hamstring. Alexander told The Post and Courier on the field at Sun Life Stadium after the Tigers’ national semifinal victory he would be fine for the title game.
Presuming Alexander does suit up and start, defensive coordinator Brent Venables has the choice of either positioning Alexander as a slot corner inside – as he has done for much of the second half of the 2015 season – or isolating Alexander on Alabama’s No. 1 wide receiver, freshman Calvin Ridley (83 catches, 1,031 yards, 7 TDs.)
With Ridley serving as a deep threat, if Alexander is hobbled, expect junior cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and sophomore Adrian Baker to spend time shadowing Ridley.
Alexander has 26 tackles and six pass breakups this year. He does not have an interception in two years as a starter, largely since opposing quarterbacks tend to avoid the highly-touted cornerback. As a third-year player, Alexander is expected to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft sometime between the postgame locker room and next Monday’s early entrant deadline.
Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson will also be limited with a left knee injury.