Alford's journey to that joyous moment didn't follow a straight line. Amid Alford's junior year at Spalding County High School, then head football coach Nick Davis came to one of his classes and pulled him aside seeing if he would be interested in joining the football team.
This interaction came after hearing about him around school, according to Jackson.
Alford's focus was solely on basketball, the only sport he played in his first three years of high school, but the conversation with Davis would prove to be a watershed moment for the Griffin native.
"He felt like he wasn't big enough for basketball," Jackson said. "Even though he was good in basketball, he felt like he didn't have the right size and he feels like he didn't have the right size for football, but you know, he was just talented in it."
Playing football was not foreign to Alford, though. It was the first sport he played growing up, so the game was already familiar to him.
"He was about 6-7 years old, and he was out there playing with the big boys," Jackson said. "One of the parents out there said 'you need to sign that boy up man, you need to sign him up' and so when he told me that, I went to sign him up for the parks and recreation and he took off from there. He always had the ability to do great things."
Alford started playing football with the Spalding County Falcons in Griffin at age seven and would play football up until his freshman year of high school, when he pivoted towards the hardwood.
"I was a basketball player, so obviously I was thinking like 'oh I'm going to play basketball," Alford said. "Coach Nick Davis, he talked to me, and I went out my senior year and just balled out."
Alford's football IQ was naturally high. In his lone football season at Spalding, he quickly emerged as one of the Jaguars most preeminent players, leading the region with seven interceptions, returning one for a record setting 103-yards. He was also named the 4A All-Region Georgia Southwest Bowl Game Team MVP. Considering he only played one-year of high school football, letters weren't flooding his mailbox. That wasn't his focus, though. One opportunity was the only thing he needed to prove his playmaking ability at the collegiate level.
Jerry Odom, who was an associate head coach at Jacksonville University at the time, traveled to Griffin for a high school game to watch a player he was recruiting from Griffin High School. But he quickly started to take heed of the 5-foot-11, 155-pound defensive back that played for Spalding.
"I'm watching this other player and he was okay, but then this other kid just keeps showing up," Odom said. "He just kind of piqued my interest and I tried to reach out and found Dee on Twitter. And then I called his coach and found out he was a first-year player and was a basketball guy."
Odom was a big fan of basketball players, specifically point guards, mainly because they had great footwork and were quick. The two cultivated a relationship over time and Odom started to recruit Alford to come play at Jacksonville University. At the end of Jacksonville's season that year, Odom got the call saying he would be the next head coach at Tusculum University, Tennessee's first university.
"I got the opportunity to come up here as the head coach," Odom said. "While I was doing it, I was scrambling getting in here for players and didn't know anything about our money situation, scholarship wise or anything but I knew there was four or five guys on my list and Dee was one of them."
Odom gave Alford a call following his move to Tusculum.
"He wanted me to follow him and that's what I did. I just wanted to go where I was wanted the most," Alford said.
Initially, Odom didn't have any scholarship money for Alford at Tusculum, so he joined the team as a walk-on.
"I just told him if you come up here and play, you do what I think you're going to do, I'll take care of you as soon as I can," Odom said. "That's kind of what worked out."
Despite playing at a smaller Division II institution, Alford's faith never wavered. He kept a steadfast mindset throughout the entire process.
"Going to a D-II, obviously you just have to work hard," he said. "It's a small school so you want to standout no matter what and just going to a Division II school, it made me play with a chip on my shoulder. It made want to be better. Better than the Power 5, better than the D-IAA, those types of guys. It just helped me play physical, play fast and it's just a mindset thing."
Alford earned a scholarship two months into his freshman campaign. In the next three seasons, he became one of Tusculum's most storied players in school history. He capped off his college career with 140 tackles, set a school record for 40 career passes defended, 10 interceptions (third in school history), 195 interceptions return yards, 50 career punt returns and 547 punt return yards which are both tied for third-most in Tusculum's football history.
"What impressed me the most about him was how much he wanted to learn," Odom said. "Everything that I could teach him or everything we tried to do conceptually. On the defensive side of the ball, we were in a lot of different coverages, and he really wanted to learn everything about it, and I think that was the first thing that really stood out to me about him."