West Virginia DL Alston battles his way back onto the field
West Virginia defensive end Taijh Alston has been with the team for two seasons but has only appeared in a total of three games during that span.
It hasn’t been an issue of skill, as Alston was set to be a major piece to the rotation up front in 2019 until only 30 snaps into the season, he sustained a knee and patella injury. Prior to that he recorded a sack in his career opener, but the injury would effectively end his season before it ever really started.
That would sideline the former junior college prospect for the entire year and then the lengthy rehab and recovery also took a significant chunk of time. But just when he recovered from that injury, he sustained an Achilles injury that again put him on the shelf.
By the time he battled back from that, over half the season was gone and Alston would appear in only one game seeing 11 snaps against Iowa State in the last regular season game of the year.
That’s 41 snaps across three games in two years for a defensive lineman that was expected to make a significant impact when he signed with the Mountaineers football program.
Now the redshirt senior is using this spring as an opportunity to remind people why that was the widespread belief about him and his skillset earlier in his career.
“This is a big spring for him,” head coach Neal Brown said.
Alston has been repping with the first team on the defensive line with fellow defensive end Jeffery Pooler out this spring as he recovers from an injury of his own and it has been a valuable experience. Not only to get him back on the field, but to showcase what he can do.
“It’s been a long time since he’s been consistently able to play so these reps are very, very valuable for him,” Brown said. “And we need him to be a force.”
During his time away from the field Alston has changed his body to get bigger and stronger, while putting together a solid spring as he works his way back into what he was before being injured.
Because the game was taken away from him for so long, Alston has approached this spring with a different outlook which has fueled his desire to make the most of this second chance.
Despite being a senior, Alston could have at least another year of eligibility remaining and there is the possibility that he could even recoup another due to the injuries he sustained.
And now, the Mountaineers are hoping that Alston can recapture his former level of play on the field and bring a different outlook in the process.
“He’s excited. He has good energy every day and when something is taken away from you, as long as it was taken away from him then you have a different outlook,” Brown said.
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