USU football: Utah State senior defensive back Terrence Alston uses childhood experiences to balance life as a student-athlete

By Megan Allen

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Oct. 12 2012 3:18 p.m. MDT

Dedication. Commitment. Courage. For Utah State senior cornerback Terrence Alston (Richmond Calif.), these are three words that keep him driven to succeed.

A dual-sport athlete, Alston began his football career at Solano Community College in Fairfield, Calif. As a student-athlete on scholarship, he was lucky enough to have things taken care of. The surprising thing, though, was he was attending Solano CC on a baseball scholarship, playing second base for the team while managing football at the same time.

As a dual-sport student-athlete growing up, there were a lot of things expected of Alston. From that experience, he learned to balance his time and make sure to get everything done while still doing it well.

From childhood through junior college, he was used to life being jam-packed. Saturdays were gameday, a football game in the morning, followed by a baseball doubleheader.

“I was kind of used to it,” Alston said.

Through his first year of college, Alston was torn between which sport to pursue further. He had a love and talent for both but knew he had to choose.

In a football scrimmage leading into what was supposed to be his sophomore season, an injury took him out.

“One of the biggest linemen came up and slammed into my leg and broke my fibula,” Alston said. “The best advice I ever got came from that incident.”

After that injury, Alston realized football was the choice he wanted to make. Once he couldn’t play football, he realized just how large a part of his life the game was.

“I was like, ‘I’ve been playing football for 15 years,’” Alston said. “My dad just said, ‘This is what you need to do.’”

A week later, Alston received his first recruiting phone call from the newly appointed head coach at Utah State, Gary Andersen.

Alston said he had an instant connection with Andersen and his staff.

“I took my first visit out here and coach Andersen just said ‘Look you really need to come here,’” Alston said. “So I called the other schools and said I made my choice and it was Utah State.”

Luckily for Alston, the USU coaching staff holds him in as high of regard as he holds them.

“Terrence is a great young man to be around. He’s always smiling and cracking jokes and is very coachable. He’s just one of those guys that you want to take in as your little nephew or something,” cornerbacks coach Kendrick Shaver said. “He’s a competitive guy, and is very, very confident. He came into this program confident. He’s very athletic; he’s got good feet; and he’s got speed. I’m proud of him.”

After recovering from his injury, Alston went on to have a successful second year at Solano CC as he helped the team to a 9-2 record, winning the South Division of the Bay Valley Conference. The Falcons earned a berth in the Breath for Life Bowl in Monterey, falling to San Jose City College. They finished the year ranked No. 13 in Northern California and No. 25 in the state. That year, Alston had five interceptions and 12 pass break-ups, along with 45 tackles (28 solo, 17 assists), including three tackles for loss.

Following his successful sophomore season, Alston garnered honorable mention All-American honors, as well as being named to both the first-team all-Region III and first-team all-conference teams. Alston was also selected for the Junior College All-American bowl roster, but the game was postponed when the roof of the Metrodome, the site of the game, collapsed.

Now in his second season at Utah State, Alston’s transformation as a football player continues as he has moved up the depth chart and is now a fixture at cornerback for the Aggies, utilizing the skills he developed as a youngster on both the football field and baseball diamond.

As he finishes his collegiate career, Alston is looking forward to the future. As he moves on, he had a simple philosophy to leave with the younger players.

“I know it’s a grind. I know it’s hard, but at the end of the day this is it; this is going to make you a man. Just get out here,” Alston said. “I know some days you don’t want to come out here and do the same thing over and over again, but that’s life so just take it in and cherish it. Get better.”

Alston said one of the biggest forces behind his motivation to succeed is the coaching staff.

“I just can’t stop talking about coach Andersen. It’s what he’s done; he’s just influenced us,” Alston said. “We don’t want to let him down. We just want to keep the pedal to the medal and keep pushing for him.”

Alston will graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Like so many players, he hopes to take his athletic talents to the next level. Eventually, he plans to return to California. He intends to receive a master’s degree in business management from Sacramento State and wants to pursue a career in real estate.

“Dedication. Commitment. Courage. There are a number of things I’ve learned playing football that I can continue to use,” Alston said. “It’s just getting me ready for life; the hard work every day.”

Megan Allen writes for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.

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