Monday Orange Bowl notebook

MIAMI SHORES - About two hours away from the hustle, bustle and bright lights of South Beach sits the small, rural town of Immokalee.

Among those who call it home are a number of notable football players, including former Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James. It's where Mackensie Alexander hails from, too.

Alexander, who underwent groin surgery earlier this season, is with his Clemson teammates in Miami as they prepare for Friday's Orange Bowl.

Freshman free safety Jayron Kearse was asked about Alexander after Monday's practice at Barry University.

"He's doing pretty well. He's coming through pretty well with his injury. He's ready to get back on the field and help the team," Kearse said. "It was kind of a downfall that he couldn't come back and help us this year. I guess that's the way the chips fall. I know, next year when he comes back, he'll be ready."

The two freshmen defensive backs were among the headliners in Clemson's 2013 signing class. They were supposed to helped form a young foundation in the Tigers' secondary this fall.

That all changed shortly after they arrive to the Clemson campus during the summer.

"I always talk to him about when he comes back," Kearse said. "We're going to try to be a top secondary in the nation, things like that. He's up for it. He's just a competitor."

More on the young DBs

Alexander and Kearse were among several freshmen defensive backs brought into the fold on the first Wednesday in February of 2013.

Adam Humphries offered his assessment on the cornerbacks who took redshirts this fall.

"I think all of our redshirt freshmen corners are going to be ball players, definitely [Adrian] Baker, a long-body that can run," Humphries said. "Ryan Carter is very physical in the boundary. Obviously, y'all know Mackensie Alexander is a fantastic player. Once he gets healthy, he'll be great. Marcus [Edmond] and a few other guys, just good athletes that run well [are] a physical bunch.

"I think coach [Mike Reed]is a great coach and is transforming them into great college players."

Not so good in Columbus

The Ohio State defensive backfield has struggled this season, and that's putting it nicely.

The Buckeyes are tied for 105th in the country in pass defense, giving up an average of 259.5 yards per game.

Martavis Bryant was rather diplomatic when he was asked about their secondary.

"They're a good team and everything. We're a good team also. It's going to be a good matchup. It all depends on who wants it more," he said.

When asked about the mismatch in size that he, Mike Williams and Sammy Watkins will present, Bryant offered no potential for bulletin board material.

"If we go out there and take care of business like we've been doing, we'll be fine," Bryant said.

He added, "We're just going to go out and play really hard, let everything else take care of itself."

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