When St. James coach Robert Valdez decided to move Shawn Preston from strong safety to outside linebacker just before the start of the season, he knew he would be a hard sell. Preston was a highly recruited defensive back and with over 20 college scholarship offers reluctantly made the move. Combine that with the fact that he established himself later in the season on the offensive end when his team was in need of a playmaker and you get the sense of what Preston meant to the Wildcats.
Preston has been named the Riverparishfootball.com Co-Athlete of the Year for excelling in multiple positions. He shares the award with Riverside's Garland Robertson.
“I'm very grateful, very happy and excited because there are a lot of great athletes in the River Parishes like at East St. John, St. Charles, Destrehan, just a lot of talent along the River and for me to be the (Co) Athlete of the Year and share this award with Garland Robertson from Riverside is truly just a blessing for me.”
On defense Preston registered 56 tackles, 14 Tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 for a touchdown), 3 forced fumbles and 4 pass breakups.
As a wide receiver he had 6 receptions,192 yards, 32.0 yards/catch, and 2 touchdowns. One of which was a one-handed spectacular catch in the first round of the playoffs at Madison Prep that was featured on ESPN's “You Got Mossed” segment.
“He made the change (from safety to linebacker) and he embraced it.” said Valdez. “He really didn't like it at first but had a great year, probably had one of the best seasons you could have. Then we started to have some injuries offensively and we needed some playmakers. We started working him at receiver, we used him as the Wildcat, we put him at kick returner. Very very proud of all that he did and the selfless attitude that he exhibited in doing what was best for the team.”
“It was definitely a transition for me going from safety to linebacker, but at the end of the day you got to do what's best for your team and they needed me at linebacker and they also needed me on offense so whever Coach Valdez needed me, that's where I went,” said Preston.
Preston now sets his sights on playing at Mississippi State where he signed his National Letter of Intent to play for during the early signing period.
“I chose to go to Mississippi State because of the family atmosphere,” said Preston. “You can't really go wrong with Starkville, it's a small college town, everybody's real friendly, hard-working. “(Defensive Coordinator Bob) Shoop and (Head) Coach (Joe) Moorhead definitely have a plan in place and their going to implement it immediately. I'm excited to get up there and getting to work with those guys.”
As Preston told us before, he's happy to get a chance to play on both sides of the ball at Mississippi State.
“Coach Moorhead admires me on offense and Coach Stoops has big plans for me on defense. Both of those guys want me really badly and I'm definitely willing (to play both) and ready for the opportunity.” said Preston.
The award was presented by Kassie Roussel, the Director of Marketing for St. James Parish Hospital, one of the original sponsors of Riverparishfootball.com.
“St. James Parish Hospital is a proud supporter of health and wellness in our community. We realize the foundation for this often starts in schools. So to all of the River Parishes teams, keep up the great work.”
Previous winners of the RPF.com Athlete of the year:
2010 Jarvis Landry WR/DB Lutcher
2011 Jeffrey Hall DB/WR St. Charles
2011 Jairus Moll WR/DB West St. John
2012 Sergio Medina RB/LB Hahnville
2013 Jeremy Jackson RB/KR West St. John
2014 Xavier Lewis QB/DB East St. John
2015 Da'Monte Coxie WR/KR East St. John
2016 Pooka Williams RB/KR Hahnville
*All trophies for Riverparishfootball.com came from Faber Awards. Since 1972, Faber Awards has been helping schools, churches, businesses and individuals recognize the best of the best in the greater New Orleans area. Located at 9127 Airline Highway in New Orleans, call Faber Awards at 504-821-5711.