Monday, August 4, 2014

Madden '04 Monday - Corey Alston

I'll be getting the Madden '04 Monday series started with one of my all time favorite Madden players.  It'll be a nice little walk down memory road for me, and hopefully you guys will enjoy it too!

Name: Corey Alston

Game image:

Example of Alston on cardboard:
Alston has 11 cards total, 3 distinct sets and then a bunch of parallels.  This is his Upper Deck Top Tier card, #'d /2500:

Video (if it exists, there won't be a video for every player):
This is actually my video from several years back.  It's Seneca Wallace passing to Corey Alston, who then makes some sweet moves to gain a bunch of extra yards.  I couldn't find any IRL footage of Alston.

Team and position on depth chart in Madden '04: Free agency, he's the 3rd worst WR there.  The best free agent WR is Michael Westbrook, who is rated a 79.  Alston is rated a 52, and slots right between Brian Stablein (53) and Windrell Hayes (52).

Some notable ratings: 79 speed (88-92 is average), 40 awareness (65-75 is average), 75 agility (85-88 is average), 69 acceleration (82-85 is average), 65 catch (78-82 is average), 82 jump (85-88 is average)

Professional Career: Corey Alston was signed by the Jets as an Undrafted Free Agent in April of 2001 out of Western Michigan.  He was then waived at the end of training camp, but resigned with the team in January 2002 where he was then allocated to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.  Alston was waived by the Jets in June of 2002.  Alston never saw a snap in the NFL, but during that 2002 Rhein Fire season he caught 5 passes for 54 yards and 1 touchdown.  He also was the team's leading kickoff returner, with 16 returns for 449 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Some of the NFLers he played with included Onome Ojo, Tee Martin, and Jamal Robertson.  The team went to the World Bowl but lost to the Berlin Thunder, 26-20.

Why do I remember him? Back in high school, my brothers and I would make seasons in Madden where we'd each have a team.  I believe it started with '04, though it may have been '05 or '06 with us later going back to '04 since we liked the gameplay so much.  I always tried to be authentic with my roster moves, creating backstories and all that, so when, at one point, my St. Louis Rams had an injury at the WR position, I went to the waiver wire to see who was available.  Badly rated players always stood out to me and I liked Alston's number (#2) and catch rating (65 really isn't so bad for a terrible WR) so I gave him a shot.  I played a lot of 5 WR sets and though he was my 6th WR on the roster, he would be the 5th and final guy until my injured WR got back in action.

What happened next though was ridiculous.  Almost immediately, Alston was catching everything and anything I threw his way.  The AI defense would usually play a dime against my 5 WR offense, meaning a linebacker would cover Alston.  And though Alston wasn't fast in the least (his 79 speed for a WR is atrocious), he'd still make enough separation to pull in pass after pass.  There were a lot of drops too, but I ended up actually cutting the injured WR and letting Alston play on.  He gained the WR's number (82) and finished the season around 600 yards receiving, near tops on my team.  He progressed a ton in the offseason and became a mainstay for my Rams franchise - we played probably 7 seasons with that league before moving on, and Alson ended up ranked in the mid 80's, a big step up from his initial 52.

So nowadays when I play Madden, I almost always have Alston on my team.  I've never quite been able to recreate the magic that happened in that one season - his ratings are really bad, and I play offense a lot differently than I used to so he doesn't see as many receptions due to less spread offense and more of a focus on running the ball.  But he's still good for 25-30 receptions a year and some decent growth over the years.

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