Sept. 16, 2005
by Laura Severson
As a young kid in Shreveport, Louisiana, it would have been hard to picture Jon Alston as a star football player at Stanford University. After a trip to the west coast, and a late discovery he actually liked the sport of football, that picture looked a little more realistic.
Jon Alston is a team leader for the Cardinal defense, and does so by being the ultimate team player with perspective and appreciation of his opportunities. Coming to Stanford was not a hard decision for this Louisiana native. "When I was twelve, I visited some family of mine who live in Oakland," said Alston. "They took me here to see the campus, and honestly it was love at first sight - I wouldn't settle to go anywhere else." He was sold on Stanford, but not on football until the age of 14, when he actually started playing. Alston admitted, "I hated football as a kid believe it or not." And then something changed and he decided to give it a try after playing baseball, basketball, and soccer. "I was 14, I loved hitting people ... proving I was tough." Alston said. His early determination definitely paid off. He caught onto football fast and he emerged as an outstanding high school football player, and onto to one of the top college linebackers in the country.
In 2005, Alston enters his second season as a starting outside linebacker, and in 2004 emerged as a major contributor to the Cardinal defense. In his 11 starts, Alston was quite productive. He anchored the defense and lead the team in three categories and was the only player in the Pac-10 Conference to finish among the top six in each of those categories. He was fourth in the conference in sacks (9.5), tied for fifth in forced fumbles (3), and sixth in tackles for loss (14.0). Those 14 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2004 rank him ninth and 12th respectively on Stanford's all-time single-season list. Alston also managed to tie for first on the team in fumble recoveries (2) and finish third in total tackles (61), bringing his career total to 120. With all this playmaking, he was awarded the team's Most Outstanding Junior player, and earned a spot on the All-Pac-10 Second-Team. This was a definite breakout year for Alston, who has defined his Stanford career by improvement. He redshirted in 2001, but in 2002, he saw action as a reserve linebacker and even started five mid-season games. He was a key special teams contributor and finished the year with 30 total tackles. The 2003 season saw Jon improve as a linebacker, racking up 21 total tackles, four tackles for a loss, and three quarterback sacks. In 2004, his hard work paid off as he earned a starting position and showcased the combination of talent, hard work, and drive. The 2005 season does not look to be an exception.
This production must be attributed to the determination that got him here. Jon Alston would not settle to go anywhere but Stanford and it's that attitude that has made him appreciate the University's opportunities. He has taken advantage of those opportunities up thus far and will have plenty more in his senior campaign on the farm. With a new coaching staff, the Cardinal look to take advantage of this team, this season, right now. No one understands that more than Jon Alston. Alston said of his coaching staff, "They are a very experienced group, and they offer a lot as far as leadership and a tough approach to the game of football." This will certainly help the Cardinal in this new, different year. When asked what he wants for the Stanford football team this season, Alston replied, "A winning season, our first bowl berth in three years, and just a great overall experience for players, coaches, and fans." Alston seems to think the goal is reachable due to the strength of the team, and his faith in his teammates. In 2005, Alston assures Stanford football fans will see, "an improved overall TEAM effort"! With Alston as one of the leaders and a determined Stanford Football support staff, that is a likely sight.
Alston will make the most of 2005 undoubtedly. He is a preseason First-Team all-Pac-10 selection, and All-America candidate. In last week's opener at Navy, Alston tallied eight tackles, three of which were solo, and a sack. He is picking up where he left off in 2004, which is good news for the Cardinal defense. As a talented player and NFL prospect, Alston would "most definitely" want to play in the NFL, but is focused on the task at hand and helping his team win right now. "The only thing guaranteed for me right now is that I am a starter on this football team, and so I have to play every game as if it were my last," Alston stated. With a Jay-Z song to pump him up, and his team ready to play, Jon Alston and Stanford football are set to win in 2005.
It seems that Alston can only improve as his Stanford career unfolds as a student-athlete. He has accomplished his goal set back at age 12, and attended Stanford University. He aimed to learn many things as a student here he explained, "I had hoped to meet some great people (which I have) and to experience a variety of individuals, and learn something from everyone here that I can, as many of the people here are of the rarest kinds of people."
Jon Alston's determined attitude is something special. He respects the game of football, and most of all, his teammates. He is excited about the Stanford football program and asserts, "Stanford football is a program that is on the rise. With our new coach, and the stadium renovation, we will be a premier team in the Pac-10." Alston represents Stanford University, by showing that hard work pays off. He has taken advantage of the opportunities and he leads with resolve. You could say ... it was destiny.