There is room for love in Marquavius Alston’s heart, and he does not have to be present in either his hometown nor on his college campus to express the feelings for both.
Born and raised in Rocky Mount, the Fayetteville State running back will return home for today’s 16th annual Down East Viking Football Classic against Elizabeth City State.
Alston, a Rocky Mount High graduate who is the Gryphons’ alltime leading rusher, will play the role of the hometown standout while at the same time filling the role of a visitor as he dons the Broncos’ blue, gray and white.
In actuality, he always is both.
Rocky Mount is a place he loves, but Fayetteville is a place where he is furthering his education with the hopes of one day possessing the tools to own his own business.
“I’m interacting with different people and learning there is other things out here than Rocky Mount,” Alston said.
Alston, a business administration major with a concentration in entrepreneurship, holds a 3.2 grade point average, and his focus is as sharp as ever with 35 credit hours remaining before graduation.
While he splits his week physically between practices and classes, his mind never is far away from Rocky Mount where his 3-year-old son, Zytez, resides.
Alston said he tries to come home when possible to see his son. The task is made easier after the season, where more weekends are freed.
Alston said the two took a number of trips during the summer, and he is adamant about exposing his son to different environments.
“Being a dad is fun, getting to watch him grow and teach him things,” Alston said. “He is fun to be around. It’s about letting him see things and having him around me. He’s on my mind all the time. There isn’t anyway I can’t go home or forget where I came from.”
Alston was part of former Gryphons’ coach B.W. Holt’s most successful seasons from 2007-2009 when Rocky Mount consistently was one of the top four 3-A teams in the state.
Alston earned a spot on Fayetteville State’s roster in 2010, where he rushed for appeared in only one game.
In 2011, Alston played sparingly, starting six games and scoring one touchdown.
Last season’s injury not withstanding, Alston impressed first-year coach Lawrence Kershaw during spring practice.
Kershaw was not expecting to have three running backs share the load this season, but after watching Alston, he had no choice.
“We had to find a hole for him,” Kershaw said. “We felt he was too talented to keep off the field, and he was going to be in the rotation for sure.”
Kershaw said Alston isn’t just a unique ballcarrier, adding that he also is a sound blocker.
For Alston, doing it all is necessary, knowing that carries are not as guaranteed as they were when he played for the Gryphons.
“In college, you have to play your role,” Alston said. “Everybody on your team has been that guy in high school, so you have to play your position and do what you’ve been told.”
Alston played in the season opener but missed the Broncos’ past two games with an ankle injury.
Kershaw said Alston could have a breakout performance today after recovering from the injury.
Alston no doubt has the talent, and if there ever were a game to put up big numbers, today’s game would be ideal.
But even if he doesn’t, Alston won’t change his approach.
He remains focused on the tasks of being a student-athlete
“I don’t rush things because things will happen for you,” Alston said. “Whenever they call me, I will be prepared.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or email@example.com