Nov. 16, 2003
By Douglas Adams, USC Sports Information
Student-athletes have to learn how to manage time every day, especially when their sport is in season. The balancing act includes 15 hours of classes and three hours of practice per day, not to mention studying time for both game film and coursework. With limited free time, student-athletes must make time for their family and friends. USC offensive lineman Jonathan Alston has worked hard to maintain his priorities and budget his time.
“You have to have balance for your entire life,” stated Alston. “You have to balance your academics, and football. My personal life takes on a bigger role because of my daughter (Jiraa Sarai). Playing football, you have to watch everything that is going on. Now, I have to be a role model to someone who is looking up to me.”
Alston came to the University of South Carolina from Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C. He was listed as a defensive lineman but was red-shirted in 2000. In 2001, Alston appeared in nine games on the defensive line while recording 12 tackles and a sack, which came in a thrilling 37-36 victory over Alabama in Columbia.
“I chose South Carolina over Clemson and Michigan State to get the chance to play in front of my home state and where my family could come and watch me anytime that they wanted,” said Alston. “In the Alabama game, it was real good to get the sack and help contribute to the team in that big win. I thought I could help us out on defense, but I was moved to offense the following year so I had to adjust. I wanted to play wherever the coaches thought I could best help out the team.”
Adjusting to the offense is something Alston has made a smooth transition with. He has come back from arthroscopic shoulder surgery and has become a starter along the offensive line.
“I had to work harder on the field and rehab my shoulder, so it took a lot of perseverance. You have to persevere and that is the thing that I have learned the most since being here at USC. You have to keep on going,”
“I had to spend a lot of time in the weight room and in the film room learning my plays,” said Alson. “Now I have the opportunity to be a starter. On defense, things are more aggressive, but on offense you have to learn more plays and structure. You have to be in control.”
Alston went from a backup along the defensive line to a key contributor at right guard who has started in eight games this season. He has learned to take on different roles from being a back up to being a starter, from a defensive player to an offensive player, and from a regular college student who has additional responsibilities outside of football.
“During the game, my job is to help create holes for the running backs or give our quarterback time to throw the ball,” said Alston. “I also try to create excitement for my teammates to help them get fired up during the game. After the game is over my roles are very clear and that includes spending time with my daughter and being a student at USC. Being a student-athlete is something that you will have for a short period of time, but I will be a father for the rest of my life. Coming to Carolina and having the opportunity to be a member of this football team has helped prepare me for my life after college.”