Speaking in assured tones, giving measured answers in complete sentences, Woodbury's David Alston was the picture of calm after signing a national letter of intent to play for Nebraska.

No surprise there. Alston, at 6-5 and 225 pounds, fits the physical profile of an outside linebacker/pass rusher-type of player. His play on the field, with 13½ sacks over the past two seasons, spoke volumes about his potential.

But it's Alston's studious nature and innate intelligence that sets him apart from his football peers. His search for a college, in which he collected offers like badges of honor, was never an ego trip. Alston knew what he wanted in a program and never wavered.

"Ever since I got the offer, Nebraska was talking to me," he said. "Throughout the whole process, they were a school that was there from the beginning. I was needed there, not only wanted."

Woodbury coach Andy Hill, who calls Alston "the best football player in the state," helped him sift through multiple inquiries and decline offers that didn't meet Alston's criteria.

"He took his time to determine what he wanted. It was all about getting the right fit," Hill said. "We had some big-name schools come here, but if it wasn't a good fit, we'd let them know. He wasn't interested in building up a list of offers because you could never seriously consider all of them."

Alston said he had discussions with Minnesota, but it never felt quite right.

"There was interest on both sides, but systematically, it wasn't a good fit," he said. "That was a big part of it."

There were a few anxious moments when Nebraska fired coach Mile Riley and replaced him with Scott Frost, but Alston said those concerns were alleviated quickly.

"He called me pretty soon after he got hired," Alston said. "When I talked to him on the phone that first time, I knew it was still going to be a place that I wanted to go. That was a big deal, to come in right from the jump and say that I was someone they wanted to be a part of their recruiting class."