UMES mourns Mack Alston's passing

  • Monday, January 5, 2015

    Maryland State gridiron legend, NFL veteran, donor and supporter passes suddenly

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Jan. 5, 2015) - A memorial service is scheduled in Alexandria, Va. this Saturday (Jan. 10) to honor the late Mack Alston, who died unexpectedly Christmas Eve. He was 67. 

    Alston parlayed a reputation as a stellar two-way player on the gridiron at then-Maryland State College into an 11-year career in the National Football League, where he played tight end for three franchises between 1970 and 1980.

    A 1984 Hawk Hall of Fame inductee, he was a college teammate of Art Shell, a fellow South Carolinian and NFL Hall of Famer. As a freshman and sophomore playing alongside Shell, Alston helped the Hawks go a combined 10-4-1 in the final two seasons of Hall of Fame coach Sandy Gilliam's tenure.

    Mack Alston - 1947-2014  

    The Georgetown County, S.C. native stood an impressive 6-4, weighed 230 lbs. and played on both sides of the ball for the Hawks. While mostly lining up as a tight end, he also played linebacker and defensive end when called upon.

    Alston remained an imposing presence well past his playing career and was a loyal alumnus who actively supported his alma mater's athletic and academic endeavors. He earned his business administration degree in 1971.

    Drafted in the 11th round by Washington, Alston played three seasons for the Redskins before being traded to the Houston in 1973.  He spent the next four seasons as an Oiler, the most productive of his pro career.  He held an Oilers' record for most touchdowns in a game when he caught three against the Cleveland Browns in 1975. Alston signed as a free agent with Baltimore, returning to Maryland in 1977 and playing for the Colts before retiring in 1980.

    He finished his pro career with 15 touchdowns - 12 with the Oilers - playing in 145 games and catching 108 passes for 1,247 career yards.

    Carl Hairston, a fellow Hawk football great and UMES Hall of Famer who played after Alston graduated, described him as "a great man - and person. His legacy help set the standard for me as a professional."

    Alston was honored in the 1970s with a Presidential Commendation and was invited to the White House in recognition of his work as a youth advocate. He testified before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on youth employment.

    In his post-football life, Alston was visible and involved in his community as well as at UMES.  He recently served on the University's search committee for a new men's basketball coach that resulted in the hiring of Bobby Collins.

    He also worked to preserve Hawk football memories, volunteering his time for a video to chronicle the history of the program that ceased fielding a team after the 1979 season.  He was a regular participant at the Art Shell Celebrity Golf Classic, a University fundraiser.  Two weeks before his death, Alston made a substantial contribution to the athletics department's "Deuces" campaign, a gift that fully vested an endowment created to support general athletic needs.

    "There was not a selfish bone in this man's body," said Dr. Michael Casey, a fellow UMES Hall of Famer. "He loved … football and many of the schools around the Washington Metropolitan area are thankful for Mack, volunteering his time, skills ax