Mackensie Alexander and Marcus Edmond are two of the eight-man freshman defensive back class yet to see the field this young season – and for much different reasons.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables identified Edmond as their No. 5 corner, which right now has him headed towards a redshirt, but he’s also one step away from playing as well.
“If you’ve got and you’re solid at four and have no injuries, you feel like you can get by without having to play him,” Venable said. “In fairness to him, he probably would perform pretty good, but would he be better than those four? Probably not right now, but he has a bright future and is going to be a very good player.”
Venables confident in young safeties
On the flipside, there’s former five-star DB Mackensie Alexander.
Alexander has been bothered with a groin injury sustained early in fall camp and then reinjured it again last week after being finally cleared to practice.
Venables says unless his condition improves soon that it will take “an absolute emergency” to avoid sitting this season.
“I’m sure he’s making incremental improvement and when somebody says he’s ready to go – he’s ready to go,” Venables said, “and we’ll see what he can do. I literally haven’t seen him practice one rep since he’s been on our campus.
“It’s an enigma to me. He’ll be fine whether it’s this year or next year. We’ll see.”
Also yet to see action this season among freshmen defensive backs are Ryan Carter and Adrian Baker, while first-years Jadar Johnson, Jayron Kearse, Korrin Wiggins and Cordrea Tankersley all have had varying roles so far.
Bryant on verge of breakthrough: Junior receiver and T.L. Hanna product Martavis Bryant has now caught the last five balls coming his way – after a rocky start.
His change in fortune started by coming down with the onside kick to secure Clemson’s win over Georgia. Up to that point, he was known more for two key drops in three targets against the Dawgs.
Saturday versus S.C. State, Clemson’s first offensive play went his way for an 11-yard connection from Tajh Boyd – and three more after that – to lead the Tigers with 87 receiving yards on the day.
“The thing with Tay is he came off the bench pretty much last year and the year before and did some great things for us,” Boyd said. “Now, he’s in a critical role as a starter and there’s expectations of him. It’s important for me to relieve some pressure off from him.”
Bryant led the nation at 30.3 yards per catch last year, and after last week, he holds an impressive 26.7 career yards per catch average.
“I think he’s really close (to breaking out),” Boyd said. “It’s just a work in progress. It’s important for us as an offense and as a quarterback to make sure he’s involved. He’s going to be a great part of this offense and will be a great player.”