A junior running back from Hampton, VA, Shawne Alston was forced to miss spring drills and the first 2 games of the 2011 season due to a nagging non-football related neck injury he suffered over Christmas break earlier this year. While he may not be the fastest of the WVU runners, his size and running style is a direct contrast to the smaller, faster guys on the roster. Even when he doesn't carry the ball, Alston is an excellent pass and lead blocker for Garrison and the other "A" backs.
Dana Holgorsen had this to say about him pre-season:
"Shawne Alston is a good football player," Holgorsen said. "He doesn't have the burst (of speed) the other guys do, but that doesn't mean he won't play." - Inter-Mountain
It is perhaps no coincidence that when Alston returned the Mountaineer lineup in the Maryland game, initial strides in the WVU running game began to be apparent. After all, Coach Holgorsen had used three true freshmen and a true sophomore in the backfield to run the ball and the lack of experience was glaring. Combine that with a new offensive system for the offensive line to learn (and team as a whole, for that matter) and growing pains were bound to happen.
In his first two games (against Maryland and LSU) in action, Alston managed 34 yards on 10 carries. Then came last week. Some will say it was only Bowling Green, but for a team struggling to run the ball, the Mountaineers exploded on the ground for 363 yards. Alston only carried the ball eight times for 50 yards, but he also managed 2 touchdowns as well. His pass protection blocking contribution can't be ignored either. Geno Smith has barely been touched the last two weeks.
With his frame/size and ability to get the seemingly tough yards in short yardage situations, look for Alston to continue that role and as a change up to the smaller guys. If you have a college fantasy team, you might want to look into getting Alston, as more touchdowns are likely to be in his future under Holgorsen's tutelage.
You can also discuss Shawne Alston, his contributions to the Mountaineers and his future outlook further over at BlueGoldNews.com.