By now, we know the story. Michigan State midfielder Fatai Alashe selected fourth overall by the San Jose Earthquakes. Another addition to an already deep central midfield corps. Perhaps not the spectacular pick that many Quakes fans were hoping for with the #4 pick in the draft.
But there is reason to be optimistic with Alashe. Whenever a young player is joining a club, there are certain traits you look for right away, before he even steps onto the pitch. Among these are mentality, hunger, and personality. In listening to Alashe speak earlier today, it's clear that he possesses many of the traits that allow players to develop into top professionals on the field.
He maintains humility, and knows that he hasn't proven anything yet. "I'd like to be a regular starter, but that's something that will be determined through what I do when I get there," Alashe said of joining the Quakes. "It'll just depend on how I start off and the amount of work I put in.
"I have a lot of growing to do coming into the league. Everyone’s bigger, stronger, more physical. But I definitely think I can hold my own. I’m a pretty quick learner, good at adapting to a different playing style. So I think I’ll be alright."
He is also appropriately confident in his abilities. "I'm good at challenging for balls, and I'm good at timing my runs," he said. "Those are things that obviously at the next level will have to be improved and tweaked. But I think I have a good starting set of abilities and attributes that will help me progress my game to the next level."
He gets along with Earthquakes leadership, which indicates good coachability. "I thought my interview with the coaches went really well at the combine," he said. "I definitely thought there was something there, and that there was a chance I can go there.
"They opened it up for me to ask them questions as well, and I asked them a few questions I was wondering. They gave great answers and showed that they were great people, so I was excited."
He is looking forward to San Jose. Not just the team, but the area, the stadium, and the fans as well. "I'm excited to get out there to some warm weather, work with a great coaching staff and be around an amazing fan base," he said. "I'm really excited to meet the fans and start communicating with them.
"I think the stadium adds a lot of excitement. You definitely want to be a part of groundbreaking things, and that is a big thing to be a part of. That stadium will be played in for a long time to come, and it'll be good to start it off right."
What you immediately get the sense of with Alashe is a maturity, poise, and ambition that you don't see in every player out of college. He seems to be the personality type that will add to locker room morale as well. This is likely what got Dominic Kinnear and John Doyle interested in him right away.
He may not be the player that instantly turns things around for San Jose. But Fatai Alashe has the intangibles that lead to successful players. Ultimately, this will help him become a meaningful draft pick.