Florida State Seminoles: Mackensie Alexander

Analysis of ACC awards polls

June, 17, 2014
In a series last week, the ACC blog broke down some of the early preseason candidates for several of the conference’s top postseason awards. Colleague Matt Fortuna gave a short brief on each of the candidates, listed a few honorable mentions and a SportsNation poll asked readers to vote on which candidate, if any, would win.

We asked for your prediction on who would be the conference offensive and defensive players of the year, offensive and defensive rookies of the year and coach of the year. With just about a week for fans to vote, here are the results from the polls.

ACC offensive player of the year

Results: QB Jameis Winston, Florida State (52 percent), RB Duke Johnson, Miami (19), Other (14), WR DeVante Parker, Louisville (12), WR Jamison Crowder, Duke (3).
Analysis: Winston is the overwhelming favorite in the poll, and his 33-percentage point lead over second-place Johnson is the widest gap among the five SportsNation polls. That is hardly a surprise, considering the Heisman winner returns and has yet to lose a game as a starter in his college career. Johnson is a reasonable second option, as the Miami running back will play a pivotal role for the Canes as they break in a new quarterback. If Miami can achieve double-digit wins this season, Johnson will be tough to beat.
Write-in votes: Gauging from the comments section, it seems as if readers had Seminoles running back Karlos Williams in mind when voting “other” for the most part. A third-string running back last season, the former five-star recruit will start as a senior in 2014. Many FSU fans are expecting Williams to easily surpass 1,000 yards.

ACC defensive player of the year

[+] EnlargeMario Edwards
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsThere are big expectations for Florida State's Mario Edwards, the No. 1 recruit in the 2012 class.
Results: DE Mario Edwards, Florida State (35), DE Vic Beasley, Clemson (34), Other (15), LB Denzel Perryman, Miami (13), S Anthony Harris, Virginia (3).
Analysis: Edwards narrowly edged Beasley, who could have been a first-round pick in last month’s NFL draft. Edwards, a junior and former No. 1 high school recruit, could be the first defensive lineman taken in next year’s draft. However, Edwards’ statistics could keep him from winning defensive player of the year. While he certainly could be the most dominant league defensive player, he likely won’t have the same sack numbers as Beasley, who had 13 a season ago, or 2013 winner Aaron Donald, who registered 11 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss as an interior lineman.
Write-in votes: Once again, the FSU voices were heard in the comment section, offering their thoughts on why sophomore defensive back Jalen Ramsey is the favorite on the Seminoles’ defense. Ramsey is going to fill the void in the backfield left by the departed Lamarcus Joyner, a Thorpe Award finalist in 2013.

ACC offensive rookie of the year

Results: Other (31), QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson (26), QB Kevin Olsen, Miami (24), RB Elijah Hood, North Carolina (16), QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina (3).
Analysis: This is definitely a difficult one to predict as there is an inherent unpredictability in the award, much more than any other postseason trophy. Other is probably the safe choice and I tend to agree with the readers. Olsen is a good pick if he is the Canes’ starter for the entire season. Watson, who was injured during spring camp, was the top quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class nationally. North Carolina could not afford to miss on Hood, who enrolled early and figures to be featured extensively in the UNC offense.
Write-in votes: With so many departures on the Clemson offense, one reader suggests redshirt freshman running back Wayne Gallman will win the award. He was a four-star recruit in the 2013 class.

ACC defensive rookie of the year

Results: CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson (36), DT Keith Bryant (33), Other (20), DT Andrew Brown (6), S Quin Blanding, Virginia (5).
Analysis: Alexander is a smart pick for rookie of the year on defense considering the reputation he had coming to Clemson before the 2013 season. The No. 4 player nationally in the 2013 recruiting class, Alexander redshirted as a freshman. He should get extensive playing time this upcoming season, though, and he has arguably the best defensive line in the ACC in front of him, which could force rushed and errant throws in his direction that are prime for interceptions. With the loss of Timmy Jernigan at defensive tackle for FSU, the Noles certainly will need someone at the position to step up. It remains to be seen if Bryant will be that person, and a strong summer would definitely help his cause as the Noles open up preseason camp in a little more than a month. Both Blanding and Brown are sleepers, especially if the Cavaliers can reach bowl eligibility.
Write-in votes: One commenter agrees with Fortuna that Florida State redshirt freshman linebacker Matthew Thomas could win this award. Thomas was spectacular in spring drills and could be a starter for the Noles this season.

ACC coach of the year

Results: Jimbo Fisher, Florida State (40), Dabo Swinney, Clemson (26), Other (22), Larry Fedora, North Carolina (7), Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh (5).
Analysis: The safe bet in the conference is to go with Fisher or Swinney. The two have Clemson and Florida State in a league of their own within the ACC. Both are coming off BCS bowl wins but have holes to fill on their 2014 teams. Swinney needs to overcome the losses of his starting quarterback, running back and star receiver. Fisher loses defensive leaders Jernigan, Joyner and Telvin Smith. I thought Fedora would receive more votes, considering the Heels are one of the favorites to win the division.
It is never too early to make predictions, and with the season less than three months away, we are seeking your input on who you think will win some of the ACC's top honors at season's end.

We continue today with defensive rookie of the year.

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson. The No. 2 cornerback and No. 4 player overall in the Class of 2013, Alexander was forced to redshirt last season after suffering a groin injury in fall camp. The five-star prospect might have been good enough to start from Day 1, but he should get that chance this fall on a defense that might be as good as any in the league. A veteran line up front should only create more opportunities for Alexander to make a name for himself early.


Who will be the ACC's Defensive Rookie of the Year?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,164)

DT Andrew Brown, Virginia. The five-star Chesapeake native was the jewel of Mike London's strong 2014 recruiting class, Brown enrolled this spring and, despite missing most of spring practice because of turf toe, has already picked up preseason All-ACC fourth-team honors from Phil Steele. That goes to show just how high expectations are for the the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Brown, who was named Gatorade's national player of the year, becoming only the third non-quarterback/non-running back to win the 29-year-old award.

S Quin Blanding, Virginia. Blanding was another highly-touted recruit London was able to land in this past cycle, as the Virginia Beach native was a five-star prospect and ESPN's No. 10 overall player from the Class of 2014. Blanding did just about everything in high school, including punting at times. Unlike Brown, Blanding did not enroll early, but he'll have a chance to prove his value early in fall camp.

DT Keith Bryant, Florida State. Another redshirt freshman, Bryant came to Tallahassee as a four-star prospect out of Atlantic Community High in Delray Beach, Florida. ESPN's No. 14 defensive tackle was a member of the scout team last season, but the 6-foot-2, 308-pounder could contend for meaningful playing time this season on a roster that remains loaded with talent.

Others: Florida State linebacker Matthew Thomas technically could contend for this award, given the medical redshirt he received after undergoing shoulder surgery after four games last season. Four-star defensive end Chad Thomas is Miami's highest-rated defensive recruit, and four-star end Kentavius Street could provide an immediate boost to NC State after the Wolfpack's 3-9 campaign last season.

ACC's lunch links

June, 12, 2014
Futbol time!

ACC mailblog

September, 13, 2013
Don't let Friday the 13th voodoo get to you! It's almost game time.

Richard in Chino Valley, Ariz., writes: Georgia Tech is leading the nation in both scoring offense (70 ppg) and scoring defense (0 ppg). However, they only received 10 votes in the AP poll. What is the reason for this slight? Shouldn't this be a story? I mean when was the last time a team AVERAGED 70 points per game.

Andrea Adelson: One word: Elon. Beating an overmatched FCS opponent, no matter the score, is not going to all of a sudden earn you national praise and acclaim. Now if the Jackets had beaten Clemson 70-0, THAT would be a story!

Tim in Blacksburg writes: You have a GT team that beat Elon at No. 4 in the league?? How is that win ... greater than VT's win over WCU and loss to Alabama?

Adelson: Well, both teams beat FCS competition for their only win. Georgia Tech looked more impressive doing it, hence the slightly higher ranking. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will get their chance to prove who is better on the field soon enough.

West in Columbus, Ga., writes: Has Mackensie Alexander redshirted, or what's up with that? I can't find a roster that says it.

Adelson: Alexander has been dealing with a nagging groin injury since preseason camp. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables called Alexander "an enigma" earlier this week and was unsure when he'd see him back on the practice field. Time is ticking on a redshirt, that's for sure.

John in Atlanta writes: Even if Miami is back, doesn't it seem a little too late? Clemson and Florida State have spent years building their image as THE two ACC elites. Meanwhile, Miami hasn't been good for what has felt like a lifetime. It seems like even if Miami were "back" this year, it wouldn't change college football's perception that the ACC is ruled by Clemson and Florida State. Thoughts?

Adelson: Great question, John. I don't think it will ever be too late for Miami to be "back." The ACC has been waiting on its return since 2004 to strengthen the league. It will only help the ACC moving forward if it has three (or more!) national brand name teams as opposed to just two. Look over at the SEC. That league is not hurt by having five to six elite teams every single year. And the current run of SEC national championships? Four teams have combined to win them. While I do agree that one good year from Miami is not going to change perceptions overnight, it would be a start. And it would put the ACC in much better position than it has been over the last several years. Florida State, Miami and Clemson are three of the top four brand names in the league. Consistent 10-win seasons out of them year in and year out has got to be the goal moving forward.

Kevin in Louisville writes: Hi AA. I'm sure you have noticed that if you include Louisville into the ACC mix, the ACC has three teams in the top 10. The SEC has four, Pac-12 has two and Big Ten has one. Also, the ACC currently has the top two Heisman candidates with a potential of three (FSU). I'm VERY excited to become a full member in July 2014.

Adelson: I totally get your excitement, though we can't really call Teddy Bridgewater an ACC Heisman candidate because he is not playing in the league. Chances are, he probably never will. But still, I am sure the ACC is thrilled with the way Louisville has started the season and also is very excited to bring the Cardinals on board next year. The schedule will be 10 times tougher, but Charlie Strong has built a good foundation in Louisville. I don't expect Louisville to slink to the basement once it arrives.

U.S. Army Bowl: Monday notebook 

December, 31, 2012
SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN 150 outside linebacker Mike Mitchell (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian) isn’t big on speaking publicly. He’d rather let his game do the talking -- and it speaks volumes.

On Monday, the 6-foot-5, 222-pound linebacker officially confirmed that he will announce his college plans during Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Oregon, Texas A&M and Ohio State are his three finalists.

NoleNation recruiting mailbag 

December, 6, 2012
NoleNation addresses questions from the fan base about Florida State recruiting as we head toward national signing day.

Matthew Thomas
Jeff Peoples/IntersportIf Matthew Thomas isn't the top player left on FSU's board, he's pretty close.
ktruba asks, "What committed recruits out there are the most critical to FSU at snagging for the 2013 class?"

Dowlar: For me, the top remaining guy is Matthew Thomas. He is an instant impact guy at the linebacker position and Florida State has been all over him for a long time now. The Seminoles are probably the leader in the clubhouse, and from that position, they can't afford to lose him.

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Several FSU commits, targets in ESPN 300 

November, 7, 2012
At first glance, this year's Florida State recruiting class lacks the star power of the two before it. That isn't to say it is void of quality, though. But Seminoles do have some offensive firepower on the list, notably four-star prospects Ryan Green, Isaiah Jones, and Levonte Whitfield. In the trenches, which has been an area of focus for the Seminoles coaching state in recent cycles, offensive linemen Austin Golson and Ira Denson and defensive end Davin Bellamy have them off to a good start.

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Florida State in some #BlueChipBattles

October, 5, 2012
RecruitingNation has summoned its writers from around the country to compile a list of the top 10 battles for elite football recruits leading up to February's signing day.

The Seminoles, of course, are in several battles to complete their class. Florida State is a darkhorse for the top-ranked recruit in the country, Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) and firmly in the race for several others, including Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos De Niza), Matthew Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) and Kendell Beckwith (Jackson, La./East Feliciana).

Read more about the #BlueChipBattles Insider for the 2013 signing classes.

Five-star CB Alexander talks visits 

September, 22, 2012
LAKE WALES, Fla. -- Five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander of Immokalee (Fla.) High School revealed some of his future plans after a Friday night loss to Lake Wales (Fla.) High School.

However, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior isn’t going to tell everything.

“I’m planning on going to the FSU-Clemson game Saturday, we’ll see what happens,” Alexander said. “I want to see how FSU plays, how they cover [Sammy] Watkins. I talked to Sammy and he says he’s going to do his thing.

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Clemson means big FSU recruiting weekend 

September, 21, 2012
Florida State's 2012 schedule is conducive to a BCS bowl run with the absence of a lot of tough challenges. And for that reason, several national analysts have the Seminoles as their pick to attend the national title game in Miami.

What the schedule isn't, though, is full of marquee home games.

Saturday's matchup with Clemson, a top-10 contest that will likely decide the ACC Atlantic Division, qualifies as one -- if not the biggest. Keeping that in mind, it is also a perfect opportunity for the Seminoles to have some of their biggest targets on campus.

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FSU, Notre Dame old recruiting rivals

September, 12, 2012
It would be difficult to say that arguably the most prestigious program in college football history could possibly expand its recruiting footprint.

Notre Dame, a nationally recognized program, regularly brings in student-athletes from Florida, Texas and California. With its new membership in the ACC and football scheduling, that national reach won't shrink.

But it all comes down to this -- schools such as Florida State or Miami will still go head-to-head with Notre Dame for prospects.

This year, the competition is for cornerback Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), a five-star cornerback who is considering Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Tennessee, among others.

Last year it was Ronald Darby, a defensive back who is now getting immediate playing time with the Noles as a true freshman. He was rated the third-best cornerback in the country by ESPN and decommitted from Notre Dame before eventually signing with Florida State.

Before that, it was Aaron Lynch and Jordan Prestwood -- both of whom are no longer at Notre Dame, where they signed. Both were committed to Florida State at one point.

The Irish appeal to recruits is clear. Whether it is the history and tradition, the academics or other factors, recruits enjoy their time in South Bend when they visit.

What the Seminoles have going for them, like the Hurricanes before them, is location. Winning helps, too, of course.

So while Notre Dame's product will be featured more prominently in the state of Florida by rotating teams on the schedule every three years or so, the net effect doesn't drastically change much on the recruiting front.
[UPDATE: Baker says he is officially committed to Florida State.]

ESPN 300 defensive back Adrian Baker (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) has had an interesting 24 hours. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound senior announced Monday via Twitter that he had made a long-expected commitment to Florida State. But Baker clarified his situation Tuesday, saying that FSU was not ready to accept his commitment.

Now the four-star prospect says he will reset his recruitment.

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Goodell Has Sit-Down With Jameis Winston
ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates discusses Roger Goodell's meeting with presumptive No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston.