Cortez Alston was a very heavily recruited prospect. He chose Georgia Tech over schools that you normally don’t see lost recruiting battles to Tech. He had offers from schools like Tennessee, USC, Notre Dame, and Michigan State, but he ultimately decided he wanted to stay home and go to Georgia Tech.
Alston’s recruiting rankings stayed consistent. He was ranked as a three star both by Rivals (5.6) and the 247 Composite Rankings (.8534).
At his size, 6’3” 250 pounds, Alston could play at defensive end, or he could bulk up some and move inside to defensive tackle. Given the lack of depth that the Jackets have at DT, it seems likely that they will move somebody there, and that person may well be Alston.
Alston clearly shows some athleticism in his film, but it doesn’t exactly jump out at you like it does with some other players. He isn’t going to be an explosive defensive end who can speed rush every play successfully, but he does show enough athleticism to make plays. If he moves inside his athleticism should play very well.
This is where Alston really shines on the tape. He uses his hands effectively and is able to shed blockers with ease. We don’t see him push his man back a lot, which is concerning, but that is at least partially because he doesn’t need to. Nobody can get more than a touch or two on him. He also shows a good understanding of responsibilities. He does a good job of staying in his lane until the play has broken down and he avoids over-pursuing. He shows the motor to get to plays that he has no business being involved in. His tackling leaves some to be desired, he uses his arms too much and his body too little, but he does explode through the ball carrier on occasion. He does get too high when he gets blocked, but that’s something nearly every high schooler struggles with. On the defensive tackle side, he shows good ability to navigate through the much at the line of scrimmage.
What to Expect?
I would not expect Alston to get much playing time this year barring some significant injuries. The Jackets have a somewhat deeper depth chart at defensive end with a lot of experience returning which could keep some freshman on the sidelines. If he moves inside, there is much more opportunity for playing time, but he would need to bulk up very quickly and get experience playing inside. It’s hard to see him getting ready for that by this year. After that, Alston is certainly in the mix playtime at whichever position he ends up at. This was a huge pick up for Ted Roof and Paul Johnson. His offer sheet shows just how coveted he was. It is great to see more talent coming into a position that has struggled the last several years.