Taijh Alston has been hit with plenty of adversity throughout his college football career.
West Virginia’s redshirt senior defensive lineman played just two games in his first season with the Mountaineers in 2019. A knee injury he suffered against Missouri ended his season less than one month into his return to Division I college football.
A knee injury wasn’t anything new to Alston.
It’s what ended any prospects of him playing in the 2017 season with East Carolina. That injury occurred well before he had the chance to play a regular-season snap for the Pirates.
A healthy and productive 2018 campaign at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi earned him an opportunity with West Virginia. Unfortunately, he suffered a second knee injury two games into the following season, which put his opportunity on hold.
In 2020, Alston largely saw the football field from the sidelines. Working his way back from the knee injury, he suffered an Achilles injury during a running drill in the offseason.
“As far as adversity and stuff like that. I’ve always been the type of guy, when adversity hits, like, I’m going to keep my chin up and I’m just going to steady work,” Alston said earlier this week after practice. “I ain’t going to complain about it, I’m just going to say ‘What’s next?'”
Alston made his return to the gridiron on December 5 in what became a blowout loss for the Mountaineers at Iowa State. He didn’t play in the team’s bowl game three and a half weeks later.
Three combined seasons at the Division I level. Three games played. Two knee injuries and one Achilles injury.
While some would make the decision to stop playing, that was never an option for Alston.
“Since I had my injury the year before 2021, I knew I was going to come back,” Alston said. “I just wanted to show people what I could do.”
But what kept him coming back to the game?
“I love the game of football. So, I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of that,” said Alston. “If it did, I would do anything I can to come back.”
The Lumberton, North Carolina native was finally healthy again in 2021.
He played in all 13 games on WVU’s schedule, recorded 37 total tackles, and was second on the club with 11 tackles for loss. For his efforts, he earned honorable mention recognition for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award.
“I’m not going to lie, I had a few doubts when I had my injuries. Like, talking to God, asking if (football) is really for me. But I just knew, like, I love this game. And If I just worked every day something good would come out of it. I thank God I didn’t quit. Now I see what I could do with me being healthy for a season.”Taijh Alston
Alston and the Mountaineers are less than four weeks away from the 2022 regular season getting underway.
He said last season he wasn’t going to let his prior injuries hold him back. That much is true again as he enters this season, even further separated from those setbacks.
Neither Alston, nor any of the current Mountaineers, have played in a game with the magnitude of the rivalry contest they will start the season in.
It’s games like a sold-out Backyard Brawl that make comeback journeys from injuries worth it, especially for a player who loves football as much as Alston.