MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- At 6 feet and 235 pounds, Shawne Alston is not exactly easy to miss, let alone invisible.
Yet the West Virginia University senior running back feels as though nobody has ever gotten a good look at who he is during his three seasons, 11 starts, 27 games, 159 rushes and 707 yards.
"People haven't seen me at the level I can perform at now," Alston said, "but they're going to get a show Sept. 1."
Alston is healthy for the first time since he arrived at WVU in 2009 from Phoebus High in Hampton, Va., as a promising freshman with a punishing style who was supposed to solve the team's short-yardage and goal line woes.
He instead carried six times for 18 yards, all in one game, as he burned his redshirt on a completely nondescript role. A year later, he was slowed by a knee injury and last season it was a neck problem that lingered after he was hurt in a car accident during the team's winter break.
With a full and fruitful spring, offseason and preseason under his shoulder pads, none of which he was able to attain during Coach Dana Holgorsen's first season, Alston is the team's unquestioned starting running back.
While he says he was no better than 75 percent healthy last season, Alston is ready to go now, and it shows.
"It's night and day," running backs coach Robert Gillespie said. "He's a kid that gives you 110 percent, even when he's not healthy, and he can take it to the next level. He's a guy the offensive line loves because he can make you right sometimes when you're wrong. Coaches can call a bad play into a bad front, but he can make it right."
Alston will be the team's starter when the 11th-ranked Mountaineers host Marshall on Saturday. The noon game will be televised by FX.
"He's a guy that, if you look back at the tape last year, keeps the chains moving and helps us stay on the field. Plus, he puts the ball in the end zone," Gillespie said. "He had a great offseason and he's got a great attitude. He's a natural leader. He's a guy who is embraced because of his attitude and his demeanor. If we can keep him healthy, he can have a big-time year."
That will be the perpetual focus for Alston and the Mountaineers this season, especially with sophomore Dustin Garrison's status still unknown.
Last year's leading rusher is recovering from the left ACL tear in December. Monitoring Alston will be as challenging as it will be concerning.