GREENSBORO, N.C. – Freshman Clemson cornerback Mackensie Alexander is already showing why his recruiting profiles had five stars on them.
In summer workouts, senior Tigers linebacker Spencer Shuey has seen exactly what makes the south Florida product so good.
“He’s just extremely quick,” Shuey said. “Even when he makes a false step, his closing speed is unbelievable. He’s not a huge guy, but he plays like he is. He’s definitely confident in himself and confident in his ability.”
Alexander is listed 5-11 175 with a 4.4 40-time.
“He’s been great,” said Shuey. “He’s fit in well with us. He’s extremely physical and quick. We’re definitely hoping for him to grasp the concept of the defense come camp and definitely rely on him to step in and take that role on at such a young age.”
The vets are bringing him along at that position of need this season.
“A lot of leaders in the secondary have taken him under their wing and coached him up,” he said. “He’s definitely being really coachable and gets along with them really well.
“It’s definitely vital that we can get some of those young defensive backs going in camp.”
Respect universal for Tajh: Syracuse opens its ACC slate with Clemson come Oct. 5 and senior Orange defensive tackle Jay Bromley can’t wait.
“It will be exciting,” Bromley said. “A lot of fans, an electric environment. Probably one of the biggest games in my Syracuse career. I look forward to it.”
Part of that excitement? Taking on reigning ACC Player of the Year, Tajh Boyd.
“It’s a challenge that you look forward to,” said Bromley. “You go against one of the top tier quarterbacks in the nation and you’re a defensive tackle? If you don’t get up for that, you’re crazy.”
Syracuse gets an extra week to prepare for the Tigers, while Clemson comes off hosting Wake Forest the week before. One comparable opponent to Clemson they faced recently is West Virginia, who the Orange romped over in the Pinstripe Bowl, 38-14, but it’s not an airtight example – the difference between the “Air Raid” and Chad Morris’ version of the spread.
“Tajh Boyd can beat you in so many ways,” he said. “He can run the ball. He can throw the ball. He has great wide receivers. WVU had great receivers, but their quarterback was a pocket passer. When the defense broke down, he had the athleticism to run, but he wasn’t going to do that. With the added pressures of him running the ball and his offensive line being that much better than West Virginia’s was and their running game better than West Virginia’s was.
“It’s an added challenge…They beat LSU. That goes to show you they’re a tough, physical football team.”
Over at Coastal Division favorite Miami, senior QB Stephen Morris admires another key quality of the Tigers' gunslinger.
“Just his ability to stay calm under pressure,” Morris said. “We talk about it all the time. He says he appreciates my game, but I really appreciate his game. In the big game, he just puts his team on his back and he stays poised. It’s an unbelievable factor.”
Boyd can spin it too.
“He can throw the ball in every single field – short throws and long throws,” said Morris. “We watch a lot of film of him against other teams. One game that stood to me was the Duke game. The touch passes he had to his receivers – the deep balls he threw to Sammy, it was amazing.”
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas sees an entire crop of ACC QBs stepping up to the plate this season. The ACC returns five quarterbacks with 6,000-plus career passing yards for the first time ever this year.
“Tajh, (UNC’s) Bryn Renner, myself, (BC’s) Chase Rettig, Morris – all of us – we’ve got a real good chance of being a very good group, putting up a lot of yards and points this year,” Thomas said.