Damon Bullock caught a pass coming out of the backfield Saturday, turned upfield and got crushed by middle linebacker Quinton Alston.
A successor to James Morris, Alston has patiently waited his turn to make plays like that.
“I know Quinton is not a returning starter, but he feels like it,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s so respected by everybody on the team because he just does things right. He’s really comfortable out there. Making calls, making checks. He’s not James Morris, but he’s got his own ID. There’s a real comfort level with him.”
Alston, a senior-to-be from Sicklerville, N.J., has been a backup his entire career. But now he’s projected as a starter, the man in the middle.
He never got discouraged about not starting, never thought about leaving. His patience is about to be rewarded.
“Just being a Hawkeye, buying into the system, doing the little things,” the 6-foot-1, 232-pound Alston said about his decision to stick it out. “Coach (Chris) Doyle, Coach (Jim) Reid, Coach Ferentz, just listening to them builds you up as a player, a man, a student. I’m so proud I came here. I kept on going, even when I wasn’t starting.”
Alston knows all eyes will be on him and the other linebackers as they try to fill the void left by Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens.
“When you play that position, there’s always going to be a lot of eyes on you,” Alston said. “We’re in a leadership position. Not just the defense, but the entire team.
“We’ve got to step to the plate and take our swings. We can’t think too much about it.”
Alston likes the progress of the linebackers. Reggie Spearman is currently listed as the starter at weakside linebacker. Travis Perry, who has missed significant portions of spring practice with injuries and illness, is listed as the starter at outside linebacker.
“We’re a lot further ahead than I thought we’d be,” Alston said. “Spearman has a high IQ. There are going to be mistakes. We’re not game-ready by any means. But I like the effort we’re getting and a willingness to get better.”
Alston said the months between now and the start of fall camp in August will be very important to the bottom line for the linebackers.
“Once we get that communication, chemistry and camaraderie, we’ll be good,” Alston said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football