Quinton Alston is being recruited to Pitt as one of the few true linebackers that have signed on over the years. In tonight's Chesapeake Bowl, Alston will start at the WILL linebacker position. Overall, this week has been a very good experience for him.
"Truthfully, coming up here, I was picturing big monsters; fast, little running backs and big running backs," Alston said. "When I got up here, and we actually went to the practice, when we did all the drills and everything, competing against each other, I realized everybody is the same. As long as you just do your job, you'll do fine."
When he gets to Pitt--a moment that he reminds us can't come soon enough--he will be coming to the Panthers at a position of need, and a position that new head coach Michael Haywood is looking to make an impact on. While Haywood is waiting to announce the rest of his staff, the only two concrete things he's announced is that Bill Elias will come with him to Pitt, and be the assistant head coach/outside linebackers coach. Haywood also said the day he was hired that he will hire an additional inside linebackers coach. Outside of that, that's the only definite thing that has been announced with the new coaching staff.
Alston has said all along that he remains firmly committed to Pitt. In talking more with him, it's hard to picture him ever having an interest elsewhere. He says he already has a good relationship with several Pitt fans. It all started with his second visit to Pitt.
"The first time I got interest in Pitt wasn't actually the first time I went there, it was the second time I went there," Alston explained. "To be truthful, it wasn't love at first site. The second time, I got to be around the guys and I got more comfortable with the coaches. I met a couple of the fans, and they recognized my face. It's great to be there. They just made me feel comfortable. They made me feel at home. I just love the city of Pittsburgh."
It started with a few Pitt fans recognizing Alston--most likely because of viewing his recruiting profile--going up to him, and just welcoming him to Pittsburgh.
"The first time I ever walked on Pitt's campus, these three older guys--three adults--came up to me and shook my hand," Alston said. "The one said, ‘You're Quinton Alston.' It was fine. It was a lot of fun to be recognized."
Does it ever get too much for him, when complete strangers pick him out of a crowd and approach him?
"I love it," Alston said. "I just like talking to people. I like meeting new people. I just like making new friends. It's all just a big plus for me."
That has not only carried over to social networking sites, where Alston is friends with several Pitt fans on Facebook. His relationship to Pitt fans has carried over to video gaming networks.
"We play Call of Duty sometimes, together," Alston added. "Everybody in the Pittsburgh area, they're giving me a lot of love, they're making me feel comfortable."
Believe it or not, a lot of his conversations with the Pitt fans, are hardly about football.
"There's times where I sit back and talk to the fans; just general conversation, just meet and greet type of thing," Alston said. "It's not even talking about football sometimes. We're talking about stuff happening on TV, video games, regular stuff."
When the coaching change was announced two weeks ago, Alston was quick to even declare his commitment to Pitt, before fans could get the chance to ask him.
"You can tell some of the fans have been kind of hectic about who's staying and who's going," Alston said. "Every time I talk to them, they say, ‘Are you staying firm with Pittsburgh?' Every time I talk to them, I say, ‘There's no worries with me, I'm not going anywhere, I'm going to Pittsburgh.' That's who I love, and that's the place I want to be."
If there's one way Alston could be more connected with Pitt, it would be to actually have some more gear. He plans on doing that when he starts classes. For now, it's tough.
"I need to get some more Pitt gear," Alston said. "It's hard to find stuff. I only have one Pitt shirt. I have a hat, and I have some towels. It's hard to find some. I've been trying to find some for so long. Everywhere I go, it's Penn State and Rutgers stuff, and Notre Dame stuff. I'm trying to find some Pitt stuff to represent my school."