Throughout Pitt's coaching change, linebacker Quinton Alston has remained committed to Pitt. Though he, like a lot of other members of his 2011 class were loyal to Dave Wannstedt and his staff, after new head coach Michael Haywood reached out to him over the weekend, Alston feels like he can be loyal to Haywood as well.
"I talked to him for the first time, and it went very well," Alston said. "He's a very nice guy. I can see where he's coming from. He's expecting some high expectations from all of us, which is all right with me. I can't wait to get up there and meet a new person, and see his passion for the game. When meeting a new person, I need to get a feel for him more."
There's no question through the recruiting process, that in talking with a player like Alston, it's easy to see his competitive nature. That was one of the things he talked about with Haywood. Haywood gave the ‘Freddie Kruger' example, when talking about his teams' style of play in his introductory press conference. Alston said he didn't take it that far, but he did admit getting excited about hearing the new coach's philosophy on defense.
"I heard that he talked about Freddie Kruger," Alston said. "He didn't refer to me as Freddie Kruger. I'd like to be, when I get on the field. I'm a whole different person on the field, than what I am off the field.
"We talked about what kind of guys he wants on defense--like a monster. He wants to base his defense on that. I can do that; whatever he needs. I'm willing to do whatever. I can't wait to get up there and put the work in. We'll see how everything turns out."
With the dead period in effect now, Alston says he will wait until January 3 to call and set up his official visit, which he will take on January 14. Artie Rowell, who firmed up his commitment on Monday night, and Kyshoen Jarrett--who declared himself a soft verbal on Sunday--are also scheduled to come in that weekend. Though Alston has seen a lot of the original members of his recruiting class de-commit, or re-open their recruitment, he says he respects their decision. He'd like to see them all stay, but he understands, and adds that whatever happens, they'll all remain close.
"They were all going to do what they wanted to do from the beginning," Alston said. "That's totally up to them. I'm not saying I wanted them to go, but I understand why they went. They just have to find out what's best for them."
While the friendship will remain--just as he alluded to earlier--he says if any of his friends decide on other Big East schools, that they will see the other side of his personality on the field.
"I did tell them this," Alston explained. "We're friends. We're going to be best friends. If they do stay in the Big East, I'm going to have to lay the boom in some way, shape or form."
In hindsight, looking back on his recruitment, Alston said that he never expected he'd be in the middle of a coaching change. Now that he's been recruited by one coach, has committed to that same coach, met the new coach, and decided he wants to play for the new coach, here's what he had to say about the experience.
"I can't wait," Alston said. "Regardless of who the coach is, coaching changes happen all the time. I knew if I wasn't going to play for coach (Bernard) Clark or coach Wannstedt, at the same time, it's still football. I talked to Ray Graham, and he said the same thing; 'Football is football wherever you go.'
"I just want to work, that's where I want to be. Coach Haywood is going to get that out of me. He's got a great history with some of the places he's been; LSU, Texas, Notre Dame, Army. It's a point of my life where you get no gain without taking a leap of faith. I'm taking a leap of faith."
One thing Haywood did say last week, was that he knew for sure he was bringing in Bill Elias to be his assistant head coach, as well as SAM and WILL linebackers coach. The other assistant coaching spots are all up for grabs, including one spot for an inside linebackers coach.
Alston was aware of that, but said he doesn't know yet how that will impact what position he'll start off at when he comes to Pitt.
"I did hear that," Alston said. "As soon as I find out (who the inside linebackers coach is), I'm definitely going to get on the phone and build that relationship. Whatever they do, I'll build a relationship with both (linebacker coaches)."
The bottom line is that Quinton Alston, regardless of who is coaching, is a Pitt Panther.
"There's good coaches wherever you go," Alston said. "Looking at it, God forbid, if I blew my knee out tomorrow, where would I want to be? I looked at it from that point, and knew that when I went to Pittsburgh for the first time, I fell in love with the place. Pittsburgh separated itself from the whole pack in my mind. Even though coach Wannstedt left, Pittsburgh was still way ahead of the other schools. I'm staying with them. I'm not going anywhere."