Reporters should not wait by the phone for Mackensie Alexander’s call. We should not hang out by his locker or slip a note to his friends.
He is just not that into us.
Alexander, a sophomore cornerback at Clemson University, rarely conducts interviews. However, according to coach Dabo Swinney, Alexander does not discriminate with his discretion.
“Don’t expect him to sit down and have some great, long conversation with you,” Swinney said. “He’s not really interested.”
Swinney intimated that Alexander’s quietness should not be mistaken for aloofness or disdain. His reticence is part deference. Last season, he yielded attention to upperclassmen.
His disinclination is part disinterest. Chasing the limelight simply does not fit his agenda.
While some of his teammates may leave the locker room quickly on Saturday nights to celebrate a victory, Alexander sits in the office of secondary coach Mike Reed to dissect film.
“I don’t even know if he showers,” Swinney said with a laugh. “That’s just how he’s wired.”
Alexander’s intense and singular focus leaves no room for nonsense. He walks a straight and narrow path with his eyes fixed forward, undistracted by superfluous scenery.
A long chat about his background would be illuminating, to learn more about how growing up in Immokalee, Florida as the son of a Haitian immigrant and field worker motivates him to press past the periphery.
A brief chat about his play would be informative, to hear him recount his brightest plays or recall his darkest setbacks.
Yet, obliging peeks into his personality are inconsequential to Alexander’s pursuit of the NFL. They also are irrelevant to his stardom.
Silence does not make Alexander any less compelling. His speed, physicality and tenacity coerce observers to take their eyes off the quarterback and track his side of the field.
They may never see the football.
Alexander started all 13 games last season as a redshirt freshman. While he was on the field, opponents attempted 374 passes. Yet, only 57, or merely 15.2 percent, of those passes were thrown in Alexander’s direction.
Against Florida State in the third game of the year, Alexander allowed three receptions for 102 yards. That included a 74-yard touchdown on which Alexander slipped while sprinting with a receiver.
Through the remainder of the season, he did not allow another pass that covered more than 20 yards.
Alexander is tentatively scheduled to stand for interviews before the end of August camp. However, he should not be vilified for his reluctance, nor should he be required to appear more than he desires.
Alexander is not Marshawn Lynch, the Seattle Seahawks running back who mocked the NFL’s media appearance mandates last season with one-word repetitive responses and the infamous “I’m just here so I don’t get fined, Boss.”
Yet, like Lynch, Alexander does not need sound bites to validate his play. He does not need long speeches to bolster his All-American campaign. Additionally, considering his hesitancy, no one should expect Alexander to transform into a story anchoring quote machine.
Alexander is a rare breed, a cross between the endangered species of shutdown corners and the near extinct species of players who shun the spotlight. His absence from the postgame podium can enhance his enigma, without detracting from his eminence.
No one should be offended if he continues to let his play speak for him. The only thing quieter than his mouth will be his side of the field.