Montana State offers opportunities to transfer receiver Ravi Alston | national


Ravi Alston was playing so well that he created concern.

Alston lined up with the wide receiver for the Saint John’s University scout team during football practice in early 2018, and he was “burning” the first-team defense, as he put it. SJU head coach Gary Fasching. Alston wore a red shirt the previous year, so Fasching didn’t know much about him before that impressive workout.

“I’m going, like, ‘God, if we can’t stop our own scout teams, how are we going to stop any of the teams we’re playing against?'” Fasching told last week. . “All the coaches said, ‘You don’t understand. This guy is really, really good. The more you looked at him, the more you saw how talented he was.

Alston became a two-time All-American at SJU, a Division III program in Minnesota, and he attracted interest from DI schools when he entered the transfer portal following the end of the 2021 season. Last month , Alston was transferred to the state of Montana.

The move improves MSU’s depth at receiver and gives Alston a chance to show if he can play professionally. It may seem hard to believe that a D-III player can make it to the NFL, but the more coaches get to know him, the less they doubt his chances.

“I would love to have the opportunity to show what I can do and take it to the next level. Obviously I believe I can,” Alston said earlier this month. “There is definitely more work to be done. , and that’s part of the reason I’m here.”

Alston believes he was overlooked coming out of Vista Murrieta High School in Southern California because he wasn’t very tall, fast or strong. But he was 6ft 2in and weighed around 170lbs as a senior, barely tiny for his position. His best 40-yard dash time at SJU was 4.61 seconds, he said. It’s not flamboyant, especially considering it was slower in high school, but plenty of receivers are successful at that speed.

NFL Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp ran a 4.62-second 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine after his dominating career in Eastern Washington, which faces MSU in the Big Sky .

Perhaps the main reason for Alston’s lightweight recruitment was the lack of opportunities.

As a junior, Alston was upstaged by senior receiver Kyle Williams, who went on to play for Arizona State. Khalil Shakir, then a junior, signed with Boise State. Three other future Football Bowl Subdivision players exceeded Vista Murrieta’s goals in 2016: Cole Dubots (Washington State running back), Kade Greeley (Hawaii tight end) and Javelin Guidry (running back corner of Utah, now with the New York Jets).

Even in today’s Hudl era, it can be difficult for players like Alston to get noticed when their talented teammates monopolize the reps.

“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder, thinking, ‘Hey, I’m as good as those guys, and I can be where they are,” Alston said.

SJU had previously signed players from Vista Murrieta and had an assistant coach with California connections, Fasching said, which is how Alston got on the Johnnies’ radar.

Alston suffered an injury that led to a redshirt in 2017, and he remained in the scouts squad in 2018. But he showed potential for breaking down defense in training that season, during which the Johnnies went 12-1 and allowed 11.1 points per game.

Alston broke out in 2019, catching 88 passes for 1,444 yards and 13 touchdowns. COVID-19 took away another season in 2020, but NCAA rules allowed him to maintain his remaining two years of eligibility. Alston finished with 65 catches for 906 yards and nine touchdowns as a redshirt junior last season despite injuries and a missed game. SJU went 23-3 combined in 2019 and 2021.

“Every third play we’ve had has gone through Ravi basically,” SJU offensive coordinator Kole Heckendorf said. “Sometimes they would dub it, which sucked, but it’s so funny because you were watching the movie and you were like, ‘Oh, he was actually still open even though they tried to put two guys on him. “”

Heckendorf and Fasching also praised Alston’s leadership, intelligence, and kindness, and Fasching gave credit to Heckendorf for Alston’s development.

Alston finished his SJU career with two catches of at least 50 yards. He excelled not with DK Metcalf-level speed, but with Kupp-type excellence in every other area.

“He has an incredible receiving radius, where no matter where you throw the ball he seems to find it,” Fasching said. “He’s been on great courses and understands the game.”

This description recalls the players that Alston will try to replace: Lance McCutcheon and Nate Stewart.

McCutcheon set MSU’s single-season receiving record and earned an All-Big Sky selection in 2021. Stewart missed the first half of the season due to injury, but finished as a starter and a strong second option for McCutcheon. Neither senior was a speedster but thrived on hitting good roads and making contested catches.

Alston attracted interest from several Division II programs and some from DI, including Weber State of the Big Sky, but MSU soon became the top contender.

MSU head coach Brent Vigen became more interested in Alston after a recommendation from Heckendorf, who played at North Dakota State when Vigen was the NDSU offensive coordinator. That connection helped Alston head to Bozeman, as did the Bobcats’ run to the Football Championship Division title game with stars like McCutcheon and intriguing NFL prospect Troy Andersen.

Alston, now listed at 6-3 and 205 pounds, could have had a chance in the NFL by staying at SJU. Former Johnnies goaltender Ben Bartch was selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars and started 11 games last season. Several NFL scouts came to SJU in 2021 to watch and talk to Alston, per Heckendorf. But MSU will give Alston a better gauge of his abilities.

Alston has been impressed with MSU’s business and marketing programs, which will help him move closer to his desired master’s degree in digital marketing. He graduated from SJU last year.

“St. John’s really couldn’t offer me anything education-wise, so I wanted to go to another school to do a masters program and obviously play another year of football,” Alston said. “Playing ball at the Division I level has always been a dream of mine.”

Alston knows he will have tough competition for playing time at MSU, but the departures of McCutcheon and Stewart give him a good opportunity. After his neglected high school career and interrupted time at SJU, Alston couldn’t ask for much more.

“To really get to the top of Division III, now I just want to see, ‘OK, what else can I do?'” Alston said. “Grateful for the opportunity and ready to keep working. For me, it’s just begun.”


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