Woodbury, Minnesota David Alston was one of three recruits to officially visit Nebraska for their upset Los to Northern Illinois, but something good came out of the weekend.
A few weeks after thinking things through, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound outside linebacker decided to commit to play for the Cornhuskers. He chose NU over his other finalists of Wisconsin and Utah, as well as 15 other scholarship tenders, including most of the Ivy League schools.
"I cannot take any credit for it, and he's the first FBS kid I have ever had he doesn't have any red flags," Woodbury High head coach Andy Hill said of Alston. "He's got excellent grades; he eats what he's supposed to eat; and he gets his sleep and he's a good leader. He's not cocky, he is humble and he plays basketball.
"He's doing all of the things he should do and, for that, I give his parents a lot of the credit. His dad played Division I football at Rice and his mom was a Division I track athlete at the University of Minnesota. David has always wanted to be a Division I football player. Our job was just to take a really good athlete and put him in position to make plays."
And Alston has been the definition of a playmaker, according to Coach Hill.
"We don't really keep stats for the defense until the end of the season, but I can tell you he has three interceptions which is amazing for a defensive end," Hill related. "Basically, he cuts the field in half for us a lot of the time. We line him up on the weak side, and then we have an outside linebacker on the strong side so people have to choose what they want to do.
"Do you want to attack the really outstanding kid or do you want to try to attack the side with an extra defender? He's great at getting after the quarterback. We play in a pretty run-heavy league, so he's more of a defensive end than an outside linebacker for us. But, last week, he had to play at outside linebacker and he was much better than I was expecting him to be.
"We started him off at the strong safety spot as a sophomore, knowing that we would move him to defensive end as a junior. And he was the best defensive end in our conference last year. This year, we have had the luxury to play him as a hand on the ground defensive end as well as a stand-up outside linebacker. We just haven't played a ton of teams that have plugged themselves into formations which allow us to use him as an outside linebacker."
Alston is excited to be a part of the Blackshirts ongoing transition to the 3-4 defense and he fits the specifications of what the Husker coaches are looking for at the outside linebacker position.
"Coach Mike Riley is a really good guy, and Coach (Bob) Diaco and Coach (Trent) Bray are very driven to do great things with this new 3-4 defense," Alston told HuskerOnline.com. "Overall, every coach on the Nebraska staff is all in and passionate about what they do."
Coach Hill believes that giving Coach Riley and his staff of assistant coaches more time to turn the program around in Lincoln will mean keeping Alston committed to Nebraska.
"Back in the spring when Coach Diaco came by to talk to me and David, it was just a really relaxed conversation," Hill recalled. "It wasn't a hard sell and I think David did a lot of research about the university, including their alumni networks end the business program. Nebraska checked all of the boxes, as far as that went, but I think it was his comfort level knowing that Coach Diaco was going to push him to improve himself to be a great player.
"I think that was exciting for him that Nebraska was looking for him to come in and they didn't need an answer from him immediately; they let him play out the process in his mind. We are hoping there is some stability there and there's not going to be a knee-jerk decision by the new A.D. because we think Coach Diaco is an outstanding coach. I know that David is looking forward to playing in his system."
Alston said that he found what he was looking for both academically and athletically at Nebraska.
"The people our very genuine there and I can see myself excelling both on and off the field," Alston said. "And it's a great fit for me schematically."
Weakside defensive end
Coach Hill had two anecdotes of Alston's selflessness and how we could take over a game on the high school level.
"I have two examples," Coach Hill began. "The first was a very heavy, ground and pound game. They weren't very good, but we turned the ball over six or seven times. Our defense, a couple times, sat down for one play and then they had to run back out on the field. David had a dominating performance with his energy. A lot of guys would have been, 'Do we really have to go out on the field again and again and again?' But we held them to two field goals and won the game. That type of energy and leadership by David was great.
"And then, last year as a junior, we had an injury on the offensive line and we were going to play the number three team in the state. It was against our archrival East Ridge. So, I told David we needed him to play left tackle, in addition to defensive end, because otherwise we would've had to put a kid in there who had never played. He did it and didn't even hesitate. We beat them in a dominating performance and he had to go both ways. That's an example of his selflessness. He just jumped right in there and did whatever we needed him to do."
Off the field, Alston mostly keeps to himself and takes his academics seriously, Coach Hill explained.
"He's kind of quiet," Hill said of Alston's demeanor. "He's very, very intelligent and you can talk to him about anything. He's always thoughtful before he responds, which I really like. Our relationship has really grown in the past year. He is very well informed on off the field issues and he knows how to react to the world. He's been great in working our summer camps with the little kids. The little kids love him and look up to him. He knows he is a good football player, but he doesn't come across that way.
"I know that he was really impressed when he went down to Nebraska with his dad last spring. When you get down there for the first time, you are like, 'Wow, this is a really cool place!' Keep in mind, his official visit there was for the loss to Northern Illinois. When he came back, he wanted to go to Wisconsin one last time to check them out, and when he came back from that he said, 'OK, I want to commit to Nebraska.'"