A Fresh Look

RALEIGH, N.C. -- True freshman wide receiver Johnathan Alston is now returning kicks for NC State, and he is looking to make the most of the opportunity.

True freshman wide receiver Johnathan Alston is now returning kicks for NC State, and he is looking to make the most of the opportunity.

"I love it," said Alston. "It's something that I believe I can be very good at."

Alston was a star player at Bunn (NC) High School, where he primarily lined up at wide receiver and outside linebacker. He finished his senior season 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 arrived at NC State this summer as one of the Wolfpack's top signees in the 2014 recruiting class. He inked with NC State over offers from programs such as North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, East Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Syracuse among others.

With that being said, the 6-foot-3, 203-pounder came in with a talented group of receivers and it has been hard to earn reps at the position, given State also has back contributors like Bryan Underwood, Quintin Payton, and Rashard Smith.

So what did Alston do? He looked to help the team in other ways.

"I love special teams," he stated. "I'll do whatever I can to help, to get out there and play.

"I talked to the coaches about returning kicks. We worked on it in practice, and we felt like it was good for me to be back there."

"He's been asking all year if he could be the guy," said Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren. "We've tried a couple of different people and haven't had a lot of luck.

"When he gets the ball he's a north-and-south guy. He has no fear."

Alston had five kick returns against Clemson, totaling 81 yards with a long of 27 yards. He feels that he can continue to get better.

"I can keep working on my vision," said Alston. "I can also read my gaps better."

It sounds like Alston will continue to get the chance to return kicks.

"I think he's a good part for what we're looking for," said Doeren. "We need a north-south guy that will make a decision and just run hard. Now we need to block better for that guy."

"I'm excited about it," added Alston. "It's my way to maybe make some big plays for the team."


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