Coach: Alston A Complete Player

Bunn (NC) head coach Chris Miller knows that he had the chance to coach a special talent in recent NC State signee Johnathan Alston.

Bunn (NC) head coach Chris Miller knows that he had the chance to coach a special talent in recent NC State verbal commitment Johnathan Alston.

"I don't want to understate what all he did for us," said Miller. "We were so blessed to have a player with his ability. He is such a great athlete. We're talking about a player who had several division I scholarship offers to play on both sides of the ball, which for a school our size is a rarity.

"We lined him up at wide receiver and offensively they would have to double him or we'd work him underneath. What is so special about Johnathan is that every time he touches the ball he is a threat to make a big play."

Checking in at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Alston played wide receiver and outside linebacker for Bunn. He finished with 38 catches for 783 yards (20.6 yards per catch) and 12 touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball. He also posted 223 rushing yards and another three scores.

"He plays wide receiver with a defensive mentality," said Miller. "Johnathan is so physical and big outside that we can throw it up and know he's going to come down with it. He has very good hands too... he just plucks the ball out of the air and has explosive speed."

Defensively, Alston tallied 73 tackles, eight tackles for loss, seven sacks and two interceptions, showing why several high-major programs had looked to land him as an outside linebacker.

"He can shut down a side of the field for us on defense, that's how good he is at outside linebacker," Miller said. "He is physical and has outstanding feet and hips... he can change direction and make plays in space.

"A few years ago we mainly faced wishbone offenses, but with teams going to spread offenses he is extremely valuable because of how well he can move and make plays in space."

Alston, who landed early scholarship offers from programs like Arkansas, East Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Syracuse, NC State, and North Carolina among others, narrowed his list to NC State, North Carolina, and Notre Dame over the summer before eventually cutting it to just the Tar Heels and Wolfpack.

He took unofficial visits to both schools but neither could create the separation needed to secure a commitment from Alston. Some believed NC State had lost ground after changing coaching staffs, but new Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren kept tailbacks coach Des Kitchings, who was recruiting Alston.

"Keeping Kitchings was a huge factor," said Miller. "Johnathan built good relationships with both staffs, but the constant was coach Kitchings. I don't think that can be understated."

Still, Alston had to become more familiar with Doeren and the rest of the coaches, and he was able to do that when he officially visited the Wolfpack on January 25th.

"Coach Doeren and those guys made a big impression on Johnathan," Miller said. "He called me while he was on the visit and was going on and on about how much he liked those guys. He told me they made him feel at home and how much he could tell coach Doeren was a player's coach. He said they are passionate, exciting, and it made him want to go out and play.

"For him, I believe both of the staffs at State had a lot of good qualities... I think he liked them both. Nothing against coach O'Brien, but I believe he clicked even more with the younger staff they have now. I'm not trying to disrespect coach O'Brien and his staff because I really respect them a lot, but he felt very comfortable with the new coaches. I think that visit sealed the decision for him."

Alston didn't commit while on campus, and he had a trip set with North Carolina for February 2nd. However, NC State's coaching staff went in-home January 31st looking to seal the deal.

"Coach Doeren went in-home, and they had a great visit," said Miller. "Afterwards Jonathan called me, we talked a lot about it, and [Friday] morning he came in and said he wanted to commit to NC State.

"I think he really had a great relationship with coach Doeren, coach Kitchings, and the new coaching staff. It was a big factor for him."

Alston, who is rated the No. 10 prospect in the state by, could play outside linebacker at NC State, but the Wolfpack coaches are recruiting him to line up at wide receiver.

"They want him on offense," Miller added. "They talked with him extensively about his role in the offense and the new way they will be doing things offensively at State."

"Johnathan is a great two-way player," Doeren stated on Signing Day. "He played a variety of positions, a guy who goes up and gets the football. You see him at receiver, but he's also a very good defensive player.

"A guy with the ball in his hands, he can do a lot of things in our offense. I know [wide receivers Frisman] Jackson was excited about how aggressive he was in going up and getting the football."

"The thing I liked about him, when he came in here was how competitive he was, how attentive he was, and how excited he was about the passion that our coaches were showing," added Doeren. "He wanted to be a part of something special."

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