EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) - The Vikings have plenty of rookies, but two have shared a parallel football path to the NFL.
From playing on the same 7-on-7 team in high school to starting next to each other at Clemson, cornerback Mackensie Alexander and safety Jayron Kearse are now trying to vault their careers together once again with the Vikings.
Fox 9’s Hobie Artigue sat down with the two of them as they start a new chapter in Minnesota.
Hobie Artigue: So how would you describe the relationship between the two of you?
Alexander and Kearse both look at each other and laugh.
MA: I would say definitely like super competitive. We definitely understand each other. We come from the same area. We played at the same college and now we’re at the same team in the pros. So, we just have a level of understanding of each other. We basically don’t even have to say anything to each other, you know what I mean, as far as talk, prep. We kind of get it.
JK: I want him to be great. He wants me to be great, so we push each other to different limits you know rather than ‘I want to be better than him’ because we want each other to be great.
You know every time we get on the field, you know we’re competing. He got his interception, you know, I felt that I had to go get myself one. So you know we do a lot of talking, lot of trash talking, but it’s all fun.
HA: So what’s the best story you have about each other?
JK: Well, the best story I have about him is actually from my freshman year. It’s like we were just getting there. We don’t have any cleats, none of that. He brought some workout gear, so we have a ladder, so we’re running up the hill. Mind, we’re in tennis shoes, so we’re going up something like that (points to incline) and we’re in tennis shoes. He’s got us doing all these drills, slipping and falling and he keeps on pushing us. It’s like ‘dang this man’s crazy.’ We don’t have any cleats on and we’re out here falling, looking stupid and that’s when I really realized – he works.
HA: So Jay had a good story about you. What’s a good story about Jay?
MA: He started as a freshman. He started I think against Maryland and I watched him play on TV and he gets his first interception and he’s so excited. He started something from that year on out and I watched him grow. He was impatient, a guy who really wanted it all, super focused, super energetic, super smart. He has all that physical ability. I just watched him grow as a freshman and I was proud of him. I just knew the guy was going to be a special kind of cat.
HA: So who would you say is the most competitive of the two of you?
JK: Oh it’s definitely him. points to Alexander, Alexander laughs
HA: You don’t even question it, do you?
JK: It’s definitely him. Everything. I’m the same way, though mine is kind of controlled. I don’t think he can control his competitiveness.
HA: Does it make it easier coming into a situation, like this, knowing the relationship that you guys have had?
JK: Personally, for me it does - just when we’re out on the field together. I might get beat or something and just to know that you got that person to say ‘let’s go Jay, make the next play,’ things like that, it’s definitely something that will help. You got guys around that are going to give you that motivation and pick you up, but just having a guy you know you sweat it with, you work with.
MA: I understand what his hustle is, how he thinks, understand what he wants in life and we have the same goals, so it makes it easier. You know when I got a guy when I look beside me saying ‘Hey man, come on we’re good. We’re ready to play. Next play. Made a mistake? Come on, we off the next play racing. We made that play. Boom.’
HA: So you guys are both rookies coming in trying to win starting jobs. Do you think that on one Sunday, maybe not this year, maybe next year that you can be starting an NFL game?
MA: That’s a great question. I think everybody is really concerned about that because of that first preseason game. Listen, we get it. We’re going to show up and compete and all those things, but that’s not our concern. Our concern is to show up every day and grind and workout and listen to our coaching staff. Stay focused. When that time comes and our name is called, we’ll be ready, you know what I mean? But all we’re doing right now is showing up and showing the world, listen, we can ball.
JK: We talk about a lot of things like he just said, like starting. The first thing we talk about is, let’s just go out there. Let’s just do whatever it takes to help the team succeed. Whether I’m just a gunner, whether he’s just a nickel, whether he’s just man off the bench, all we want to do this year is help contribute and really just go out there and show everybody what they can forward to for years to come.