When defensive lineman Taijh Alston was first recruited by West Virginia two years ago, he made the decision to stay closer to home and commit to East Carolina.
Unfortunately, the Lumberton, North Carolina, native never had the opportunity to suit up for the Pirates. Alston tore his meniscus in his right knee the week before ECU’s season opener. It was a season-ending injury that required surgery.
It was during that recovery process that Alston weighed his future.
He transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Mississippi, in the summer of 2018. That season, he tallied 78 total tackles, including seven sacks. He also finished with 15 tackles for loss.
Those stats were second on the team and fifth in the conference, leading to All-Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) First-Team honors.
While going through the recruiting process after his junior college stint, Alston told himself if “I’m going to go to West Virginia if they offer me one more time.” That’s exactly what happened.
Coach Holgorsen’s staff once again expressed their interest in Alston, and this time he accepted.
Holgorsen and company left WVU shortly after Alston made his commitment, but he said WVU’s new head coach Neal Brown and his staff won him over immediately.
“Even though there was a switch, I still love the defense that we are in,” Alston said. “The defense is different than last year. It allows you to make more plays and instead of just sitting in the gaps like last year, it allows us to show our athleticism, and make plays on the field.”
Alston said he believes Coach Koenning’s defense provides him with a better opportunity to use his pass rushing skills.
“I feel like I’m a good speed rusher on third down. I can play the first and second down, too, but I’m a good pass rusher. I can add that to the team and just keep working.”
As a defensive end, Alston thinks he can be a valuable asset this upcoming season. Veteran defensive lineman Reese Donahue agrees.
“Taijh is very talented. He brings good speed and has length and size. With this being his first year here, he’s done very well. I think he’s adapted to everything that has happened so far,” Donahue said of the newcomer. “He could be a very good player this year and in the future, he just has to keep improving.
Alston credits strength and conditioning coach Mike Joseph for helping him make the adjustment form juco to Division I.
He arrived in Morgantown in January weighing 226 pounds. He current checks in at 250.
“Even though I’ve put on the weight, I’m not any slower than I was, so everything is going good,” Alston ensured.
Coach Brown said Alston impressed him in WVU’s first scrimmage last week with his ability to get to the quarterback.