The addition of Marshall edge rusher Elijah Alston adds depth for the Miami football team at one of their deepest positions. Miami returns ACC Defensive Freshman of the Year Rueben Bain, 2022 starters Nyjalik Kelly and Akheem Mesidor who missed most of the 2023 season and rising sophomore Jayden Wayne.
Miami gained a commitment from Alston after he committed to Texas A&M on Monday before renouncing his pledge to the Aggies a day later. Alston played under Miami defensive coordinator Lance Guidry at Marshall in 2021 and 2022. Alston is the 311th-ranked transfer and 24th edge rusher in the 2024 portal.
The 2023 season was Alston's best at Marshall. Alston had 45 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, six sacks, one interception that he returned 85 yards for a touchdown, three passes defended and one forced fumble. Alston had 108 tackles, 19.5 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, one interception, five passes defended, four forced fumbles and one recovery.
Alston initially signed with Marshall as the 2,253rd prospect, 148th defensive tackle and 44th player in Virginia in the 2019 class out of Chesapeake Oscar Smith. As a freshman in 2019, Alston redshirted. Alston had six tackles, a 0.5 TFL and a 0.5 sack as a redshirt freshman.
In his two games versus Power Five opponents in 2023, Alston combined for seven tackles, two TFLs, one sack, five quarterback hits and one pass breakup as Marshall beat Virginia Tech and lost to North Carolina State. Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald Pro Football Focus gave Alston a 91.0 overall grade and 90.5 pass-rush grade in 2023.
Alston was an efficient pass rusher in 2023 with 36 QB pressures and the six sacks in 235 pass rush snaps last season, per Jackson. Where Alston fits into the Miami rotation will depend on how Guidry and Miami defensive line coaches Jason Taylor and Joe Salave'a slot players next season.
Bain and Mesidor both have the potential to move inside. Miami signed five-star defensive tackles Armondo Blount and Justin Scott in the 2024 class. How quickly Blount and Scott develop could influence how many snaps Alston receives. Blount also has the potential to move outside.
Miami also added DTs C.J. Clark and Marley Cook through the transfer portal. Jared Harrison-Hunte is the top returning DT for Miami. Miami could play Bain and Mesidor at DT and Kelly and potentially Alston on the edge in pass rushing situations. Miami should have a very deep DL in 2024.