TAMPA – Robinson’s No. 1 running back Anfernee Alston flashed big play potential as a sophomore and once again as a junior, despite battling a knee injury. He has big plans for his final prep season now that his knee is back 100 percent.
“I didn’t have the season I wanted because I missed a few games. I had a personal goal to rush over 1,000 yards. I didn’t make it so I’ll be on a mission my senior year,” Alston said.
Being determined is always a good thing especially for a Knights squad that could use a stellar season from Alston with playmakers J.J. Henderson and Iyan Mitchell graduating.
At 5’9″, 185 lbs, he makes defenders pay with his quick feet and overall power. He can bounce outside or hammer it up the middle with the bulkiest of players.
Alston says his biggest strengths right now are his vision and ability to make plays. As for weaknesses, he wants to get better at making the last defender miss more often. He thinks it is the difference from 15 yards to taking it all the way for a touchdown.
Using his smarts off the field as well, Alston has his sights set on some Ivy League schools as well as others. He’s talked with Columbia, Yale, Princeton and Lehigh while earning interest from Iowa, Virginia and Akron. His lone visit thus far was to Akron last month.
Alston is still waiting for that first offer and hopes to get a full ride to play football at the next level so he can compete and show what he can do.
Despite the battle with the knee injury in 2015, Alston had four 100-yard games, a career-high. He totaled 774 yards on 148 carries (5.2 average) and a touchdown along with 47 yards on two receptions.
He totaled 10 touchdowns as a sophomore, which consisted of nine on the ground along with 830 yards on 173 carries (4.8 average). His other touchdown came on defense on a fumble recovery.
Doubling as a running back and cornerback, Alston will do the same this season for the Knights.
A member of the Robinson varsity team since his freshman year, Alston started playing football at age seven with the South Tampa Titans and then soon thereafter the West Tampa Spartans.
While attending the FBU camps in middle school, he gained a lot of confidence and realized he could hold his own.
Taking pride in his academics and abilities as a human being on and off the field, Alston has always has had the same mindset.
“Being from a military family, we were never raised to accept failure. Rather always push ourselves to excel in everything.”
Alston’s biggest role model is his oldest sister, Amber, a 2012 Robinson graduate.
“She set a high standard to follow. She graduated the top of her class from Robinson and she’s going to graduate this May from University of Alabama summa cum laude.”
Alston says playing under fourth-year head coach Shawn Taylor is truly great. Taylor, a 2000 Robinson graduate and longtime assistant before taking over for Mike DePue in 2013 helps his players prepare for life on and off the field, according to Alston.
The one thing Alston is focused on the most this spring is becoming a more versatile option out of the backfield.
“I’m always working on getting bigger, stronger and faster. I’m studying the game to be a smarter player on the field and always thinking about being the best.”
Alston says you should expect to see a lot of guys step up this year for the Knights including senior defensive ends Eli Morris, Anthony Krouse Jr. and defensive back Tevin Ford and junior offensive/defensive lineman Almosse Titi.
After going 5-5 last season which included a 4-1 mark away from their home field, Alston envisions a turnaround campaign for the Knights.
“I believe people are going to underestimate us because we lost a lot of seniors, but I feel like we are going to shock a few.”
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to watch Alston’s game grow over the last two seasons. In the Week 2 loss to Wharton this past season, he posted 128 rushing yards and consistently was a tough guy to bring down.
He gets the job done with his instincts and power out of the backfield. He’ll earn an offer here soon there’s no doubt. It’s very rare to find a player with his abilities and smarts, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see one of those Ivy Leagues sending an offer Alston’s way.
Favorite players to watch? – Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and NFL prospect, running back Derrick Henry
Favorite TV show – The Walking Dead
Playlist before games – Meek Mill and Kodak Black
Nickname from teammates or friends – ‘Penny’
Jake Perper is the founder of Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
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