Commitment Date: 7/20/15
Commitment in the Class: 13th
Accolades: Rated the No.19 defensive end in Florida, No.49 in the South and No.124 in the country ... first-team All-Western Conference as a senior, recording 64 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a blocked field goal ... second-team All-Hillsborough County by Tampa Tribune as a senior ... second-team All-Western Conference as a sophomore and junior ... finished career with 135 tackles, 12 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 pass breakups ... team MVP as a senior ... two-year team captain ... also competed in track and field ... brother, Quinton, played football at Assumption College.
Recruiting Story: Although there was 11 months to go until he had to sign his national letter of intent, Preston – one of the top players in his county – felt he was nearing the end of his recruitment.
Although he had collected offers from Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Mississippi State, Rutgers and South Florida, Preston was drawn to Miami’s offer, as the Hurricanes' unity and family-like atmosphere down in Coral Gables were what he was looking for.
"I love the history of Miami," Preston said in March 2015. "From everything way back in the 80's until now, it's really exciting, and they have a great education program. The coaches and team really seem like a family and everything is one over there. Coaches are really excited about me coming in and saying I'm a perfect fit for their scheme and everything. I'm looking at them as my No. 1 right now."
Even so, Preston wanted to take his time with the recruiting process, essentially making sure that Miami was the right school for him.
Wisconsin offered him in April – the same day as Louisville – and became an intriguing option. After all Wisconsin had just beaten a nationally-ranked Auburn in the Outback Bowl in Preston’s own backyard a few months earlier.
More offers continued to come in, including Penn State and Pittsburgh, to convince Preston he needed to back off his strong love for Miami and look at each school objectively.
Wanting to make his decision by the beginning of August, Preston mapped out a daunting visit schedule in June, going to Wisconsin on the 19th, Indiana the 20th, Boston College the 25th, Pittsburgh and Penn State the 26th and Rutgers the 27th. His visit to Wisconsin was brief, but Preston admitted after that he gained a “deeper interest” in the program after meeting with former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, academic advisors, toured the facilities and campus and learned about the school’s tradition.
“Being from Florida and you tell people you are going to Wisconsin, they tell you that there is nothing up there but fields and football,” Preston said after the visit. “I went up there expecting to see nothing but a whole lot of fields with a football stadium in the middle. It’s not that at all. The campus is really spaced out and there’s a lot to do there. The city of Madison is based on that whole Wisconsin vibe and it’s got great energy.”
Preston still continued on his other stops but realized that what he was looking for athletically and academically could only be found in Madison. Sticking to his timeline, he announced his commitment before the start of his senior season and became a Badger.
Why Wisconsin? “It was a great school. I love the coaching staff and city of Madison, so basically it seemed like it was a great package all the way around. It's one of those things you can't just pass up on; you have to take advantage of it.”
Scouting Report: From a physical standpoint, Preston is one of the more college-ready student-athletes out of the Tampa Bay area for the class of 2016. Possessing a chiseled frame, Preston has active hands to disengage off blocks, and shows good pursuit and effort when tracking down the quarterback from the back side. You don’t find a lot of guys built the way he is with that frame.
A bully on the football field that plays with nice physicality and toughness in the trenches, Preston is a smart football player that does a good job of diagnosing and reacting at defensive end. He rarely over pursues and sets the edge for the defense.
Preston needs to work on his overall explosiveness and quickness off the ball, but he's a player that can step up to the plate and receive repetitions sooner rather than later in his college career. As he put it, Wisconsin is getting one of the most vicious defensive ends in Tampa – Scout’s Florida recruiting analyst Corey Bender
Coach’s Quote: “He’s got a great body type - big, long and athletic. He can get after the passer. You talk to him and you like his demeanor. You like the way he works. He’s going to come here, and he’s going to be a good player for us. We’re excited about him. His natural athleticism is what sold us on film, and when you meet him, you know he’s going to be a great fit for us.” – Wisconsin defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield
BadgerNation Prediction: Like current Badgers Zander Neuville and T.J. Watt did early in their respective careers, Preston will start as an outside linebacker in Wisconsin’s 3-4 scheme and likely transition into a defensive end as he adds weight. Preston’s skills allow him to be a factor for Wisconsin early in his career in passing situations, so he has a very bright future with the program.