Since the end of the 2005 college football season, things have only gotten better for Alston. He was one of the only players to participate in both the Senior Bowl and the East/West Shrine Game. He then made jaws drop at the NFL combine after running a 4.40 40-yard dash (the fastest time among linebackers), leaping for a 40-inch vertical jump and bench-pressing 225 pounds 30 times. Alston admits he had a little extra help on his side for his performance at the Combine.
"I hadn't expected to jump as well as I did with the 11-foot broad jump and it was actually a 41-inch vertical, but they miscalculated it -- and it went down in the books as 40," Alston said. "But the funny story is, my mother, she prayed over my baby shoes that I would be the fastest linebacker at the Combine the night before I ran. I was very blessed to be the fastest linebacker at the Combine this year, so I was really thankful for that. I had thought that I would do well, but I didn't think I'd do as well as I did do."
Alston's Combine performance impressed scouts and vaulted him up numerous mock draft boards. At 6-foot-1, 223 pounds, Alston's blazing speed, ball-hawking abilities and pass rushing skills are distinguishing attributes that have also caught the eye of many NFL scouts. Some NFL teams are even considering using him at the safety position based on his physical frame and coverage skills.
"Several teams have expressed interest in doing that with me [switching him to safety]. I've actually had several workouts with teams coming in and checking to see how I move and whether or not I could make that transition. I think I've done well in all those workouts, so honestly on draft day I don't know what position I'll be drafted as, but I'll play wherever they ask me to play," he said.
Alston is used to playing different positions. He began his high school career as a safety, switched to linebacker and wide receiver as a junior and then played running back, linebacker and defensive tackle his senior year.
"Actually one game my junior year, I played FS, CB, DT, LB and WR in the same game, so I moved around a lot," he said.
As defensive speed becomes more of a necessity in the NFL, the value of a player like Alston will likely continue to rise. "I feel like there are a lot of systems that emphasize speed from the OLB position that I could be successful in," Alston said.
Alston's refreshing attitude will be an asset for any NFL coaching staff. He believes in being a football player "24/7," by avoiding late nights out drinking and getting to bed on time. That way of life is also an extension of his upbringing and the close family ties he maintains today.
"My aunt and cousin, who I consider my brother, went to every single game over the last two years, home and away," he said. "They work blue-collar jobs with the post office but they sacrifice and make time to be there for me. Something like that – you couldn't ask for more."
Alston also inspires himself with a motto that he applies to all aspects of his life.
"I think that a person should never settle and should do the best they can do," he explained. "For me as a football player, I strive to be a great player, to be a part of a great team and something great because I believe I have the physical gifts to do it, the mind to do it, so why not do it? Why settle for not doing my best? If God gives you gifts you've got to use them, right? I think that's something that you can apply to anything in your life."
While some players who are passionate about the game of football scream and go into a rage before a game, Alston prefers meditation and visualization to get ready. His dedication to the team concept is apparent in the reasons he gives for loving the game of football.
"Man, there are so many things that I love about the game of football. I think it's a combination of everything. The thing I really love is that you can bring so many different types of people from so many different places together and work together for one common goal. To me, there are few things in the world that are comparable to that. My sophomore year in high school I played on a team that had eight shutouts. It was amazing that every time we were on the field we trusted every single one of those guys. We were like brothers. That season alone taught me so much about life and football. I strive to get that feeling every year because it's something I can't get anywhere else. And also, being able to run around and smack people as hard as you can…that's fun too," he said.
Note: PackerReport.com Insiders can read about an exclusive interview with Jon Alston where he'll share more about his playing style, his Combine experience, and much more!