WVU Signing Day Roundup: Taijh Alston
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be taking a look at each of West Virginia’s football signees from the early signing period of Dec. 19-21. We’ll have exclusive comments from WVU Director of Player Personnel Ryan Dorchester, video highlights, and looks at how each player will fit into the Mountaineer program in 2019 and beyond.
Taijh Alston DE 6-4 235 Copiah Lincoln CC Carthage, NC
Dorchester’s Take: “Taijh is a very productive d-lineman at Co-Lin. We needed to add some more defensive linemen to replace what we are losing. He is a kid we knew from recruiting him in high school, and who felt like he should have come here originally. He doesn’t fit the mold of our typical d-linemen, but when you find someone who is productive and strong, burning desire to be at West Virginia, you may take one outside the cookie cutter. He’ll have to get stronger and add weight once he gets here, but he’s a three-for-three kid (who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2019), so he’ll have time to develop. We’ve had success with guys like that in the past.”
Alston played his high school football at Union Pines in Cameron, N.C., which is located south of the Winston-Salem-Raleigh corridor. He established a reputation there as a very active player for a defensive lineman, averaging more than six tackles per game and recording 13.5 sacks as a three year starter.
— Co-Lin Athletics (@colinathletics) December 19, 2018
During his 2016 senior season, he recorded an 96 tackles, 7.0 sacks and 16.0 tackles for loss as a senior captain — big numbers for a defensive lineman.
Alston signed with East Carolina following that productive year, and enrolled in January of 2017, and redshirted following an excellent spring in which it appeared he would make a push for major playing time. At the end of the year, he announced he was leaving, and transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
In his one season with the Wolfpack, he earned All-Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) First-Team honors while recording 78 tackles (51 solo). Included were seven sacks, 15 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
West Virginia returns a solid base of players on the defensive front, but several of those scholarship holders have yet to forge a great deal of production up front. There’s no guarantee that they can fill the huge gaps left by graduating Ezekiel Rose, Jabril Robinson and Kenny Bigelow, so getting a player with the ability to jump in and play the way Robinson and Bigelow did this year is important.
As Dorchester noted, Alston isn’t a big thumper like the departing group, so he’s not going to be a one-for-0ne replacement for any of them. What he does bring, though, is excellent leverage off the edge in the pass rush, and potentially the ability to chase down wide plays before they can turn the corner on his side. If he can do that, he’ll take some attention off the interior line, and perhaps help them in generating more push in their own right.
Alston is one of three players currently set to enroll at WVU in January, 2019, so he will have some additional time in the Mountaineer strength program before games roll around. His gains there (could he get to 255 or 260 by the start of the season?) will have a big impact on the number of snaps he might earn early on. At a minimum, the hope is that he can be a rusher in passing situations, ala former Mountaineers Shaquille “Shaq” Riddick, or, dare we say, Bruce Irvin. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect an Irvin-like level of performance, but Alston has good leverage and techniques, and as he builds his strength he could wind up as a different, yet effective, type of lineman for the Mountaineers.
Alston’s Other Offers: N.C. State, North Texas, Appalachian State, Western Kentucky, East Carolina