Power Runner

Phoebus head football coach Bill Dee has put numerous recruits into Division I schools during his 23 seasons at the school, and his latest top-drawer commitment combines several different attributes into one well-honed package.

Running back Shawne Alston, who committed to WVU shortly after receiving an offer, is a "big, strong, north-south type of guy," according to the veteran head coach.

"He's a different type of runner than Noel Devine," said Dee by way of comparison. "You're looking at a power guy here. Not that he's slow by any means. We don't play in a slow league here. He's fast enough that he scored 27 touchdowns last year. But speed doesn't help you if you are getting run over."

While Alston has the ability to make a quick cut on stretch plays and sweeps, he excels inside, where he can make his own hole and pick up short yardage to keep the chains moving.

"It's not always how fast you are," Dee notes. "He has great vision, and he just smells the goal line."

Dee wasn't quite sure what he had in Alston a year ago, when the power back transferred to Phoebus from Newport News. Like any transfer, fitting him into the system took some time in the preseason. That was compounded by pending eligibility questions, so as a result Alston didn't get a great number of reps during preseason practice, which he joined late. Once he was cleared to play, however, it didn't take Dee long to know he had something special.

"The first game or two, he showed that he could play," Dee said with a bit of understatement. "You don't expect to get a transfer that gains 1,700 yards, so that was a nice surprise. But after watching him in the first game, we knew he could run."

Alston took care of any possible adjustment problems himself, as he quickly carved a comfortable spot for himself on the team.

"Shawne is a gregarious kid, and he fit in really well with Tajh and Baby D," Dee reported. "He is a great kid to have around."

Dee, who has had three players at the same college before (but not from the same class), is happy that his charges have made their collegiate choices.

"You don't expect it, but it's a pleasant surprise," he said. "The kids are happy with their choices, and the are going to a great program. It's good for us too, because with that out of the way we can concentrate on their senior seasons.

"I'm happy with their choice because I know and trust the coaches at West Virginia. I've known Coach Stewart since 1979, and we have a great relationship. I've never coached against Coach Beatty in a game, but we scrimmaged each other once, and we have a mutual respect for each other. And Coach Stewart is a regular guy, an honest guy. He's always easy to talk to, and I've always found him to be very honest."

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