Clemson's Shaq Lawson starts, but Mackensie Alexander exits

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clemson star defenders Shaq Lawson and Mackensie Alexander both started the College Football Playoff championship game against Alabama Monday after their playing status was in question until pregame warmups.

Alexander, however, exited the game with help from trainers in the second quarter and was ruled out for the second half with an injury to his other hamstring.

Lawson, a junior defensive end who has announced his intention to enter the 2016 NFL Draft, had been treating a minor knee injury throughout the week that he suffered in the Tigers' 37-17 win over Oklahoma in a CFP semifinal on Dec. 31. Alexander suffered a hamstring injury in the same game. Though Lawson's availability has been a topic throughout the week, Alexander's didn't come into question until the hours before the game.

Alexander, a third-year sophomore cornerback, is expected to announce whether he will apply for early draft eligibility by Tuesday, along with several other Tigers underclassmen.

Lawson and Alexander are involved in two of the most anticipated individual matchups of the game, against Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson and Crimson Tide receiver Calvin Ridley, respectively.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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