Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander has not even played a single snap in the NFL yet and he might be one of the hardest workers on the team. He has been working hard all his life - getting up before the crack of dawn to help his family pick oranges since the age of 10 - and that work ethic has clearly stuck with him.
His college head coach, Clemson’s Dabo Swinny, touched on his determination to be the best during an ESPN feature of Alexander following the draft.
“I’ve never really been around a guy like him. He almost over trains,” Swinny explained. “There’d be Friday nights at 10 o’clock and the light’s on and he’s inside doing the ladder drill - footwork drill - but that’s just how he’s wired. I think that work ethic was instilled in him by his parents and he’s just driven to be the best.”
Fellow Vikings rookie and former college teammate Jayron Kearse also touched on the work ethic of Alexander. The two have known each other since they were in high school and became roommates at Clemson their freshman year. At first, Kearse did not realize how hard Alexander pushed himself, and those around him, but he learned quickly.
“I would have to say it was probably our freshman year. We were just getting in, he was my roommate actually. We didn’t even have a workout with the team yet, so we didn’t have cleats or anything,” Kearse said. “He had us running up a hill and doing ladders with no cleats, in tennis shoes, slipping, falling, looking bad. That is when I realized, I mean I actually said, ‘This dude’s crazy.’”
Not only is Alexander a hard-working player, but he also appears to be a very humble one. He was asked if he was going to buy himself any expensive gifts - like many players do - after signing his first contract. He said he wasn’t because that is not how he was raised.
He wants to use his money and success to help out his family, but even his parents have told him that they do not want a new house. He described them as being old school but said that he still might try to get his mom a new car.
“I might get my mom a new car or something like that,” Alexander said. “My mom don’t really want much and I don’t need much. I’m good. I just focus on playing football.”
His family is not the only people that Alexander wants to try and help out, though. He wants to try and give back to the community he has grown up in because he knows that the kids there do not have a lot of people to look up to. The ones playing sports can see pictures of famous athletes or watch them on television, but they don’t get to see them in person very often.
He wants to be a person that the kids in his hometown can look up to and aspire to be like.
“There are a lot of people in America that are successful that don’t come back home,” Alexander said. “It’s about sharing, but they don’t show their face and the kids don’t know who they are, and they don’t have nobody to look after. That’s when you get problems of kids being bad and going to jail. I just want them to look at me as a positive outlet.”
When Alexander was growing up, around the age of 15, former NFL running back Edgerrin James came to his hometown and noticed him. Apparently James saw Alexander working out on the high school football field one day and was very impressed by what he saw. He then gave the young Alexander a pair of his football gloves, and that encounter meant a lot to him. He said he took great care of those gloves and probably still has them at his house.
“I’ll never forget the first thing (James) said was, ‘You don’t see kids like you working like this anymore,’ and he gave me the gloves and told me to keep working hard and you’ll achieve your dreams,” Alexander explained. “That was a big thing for me.”
Having a famous person stop by and talk to him the way James did meant a lot to Alexander. Now he is doing his best to continue to work hard and set a good example for other kids, so he can give them someone to look up to.