If there was one play that sparked Stony Brook’s 42-14 upset of then-No. 2 ranked Richmond last week, it was Sherman Alston Jr.’s 96-yard touchdown return on the second-half kickoff. The Spiders had cut the Seawolves’ lead to a touchdown just before halftime, but when Alston ran the kickoff back, it restored control of the game to SBU and lifted the whole team.
It showed the added dimension of special speed that the 5-6 junior transfer from Boston College has brought to Stony Brook. That’s the impact role Alston expects to play, starting Saturday evening at LaValle Stadium against undefeated Sacred Heart (3-0) of the Northeast Conference.
Alston earned special teams player of the week honors in the Colonial Athletic Association with 150 all-purpose yards, including a 38-yard run that set up another TD, and the Seawolves (2-1) jumped into the national rankings at No. 20 in the STATS FCS poll and No. 24 in the FCS coaches poll.
“I was just happy for the team because Stony Brook never beat a team rated that high,” Alston said Thursday after practice.
Alston broke open his kickoff return, cutting diagonally across the field and making the last two tacklers miss when he split them and went up the left sideline. Asked how he felt to make such a big contribution, Alston said, “It’s about time. Coach told me we needed to control field position. That’s what he brought me in here to do.”
In two seasons at BC, Alston played in 24 games, caught 23 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns, rushed 47 times for 388 yards and two TDs and averaged 8.1 yards on 38 punt returns. When he decided to transfer, Alston spoke to SBU coach Chuck Priore about his role and then listened to the advice of his former high school coach Tony Karcich of St. Joseph’s Regional in Montvale, New Jersey, where Alston played on three state championship teams.
“Coach P laid out a plan for how they planned on using me here,” Alston said. “He told me he wanted to get the ball in my hands and get me out in space to see what I could do with it. When I spoke about it with my high school coach, he said Coach P was a man of his word and I could trust him.”
Alston’s role will expand against Sacred Heart because he will start in the three-wide-receiver set in place of injured Donavin Washington. “Our goal when we brought him in was to get him 10 to 12 touches a game whether through special teams or offensive schemes,” Priore said. “His speed lets you win the corner without having to block everybody clean, and he moves the field. That’s why we took him.”