Michael Preston last played for Heidelberg in 2010, but the star receiver hasn't stopped keeping tabs on his school.
Preston, now a member of the Tennessee Titans' practice squad, said he was so nervous for Heidelberg's game with Baldwin-Wallace last week that he couldn't follow it.
"I got so nervous during the BW game, I shut it down," Preston said.
He found out what happened later on Twitter, with players and others writing about the finish. Preston was proud of the win, but also proud of Quentin Rembert, who blocked the Yellow-Jackets' potential game-winning field goal. Rembert and Preston were not only teammates at Heidelberg, but also at Euclid High School.
"When I saw Rembert blocked that kick," Preston said, "I lost it."
Preston keeps a close eye on his school, all while trying to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL. He has been on the Titans' practice squad for the past two seasons, still waiting for his chance to be activated for a regular season game.
"I'm taking it one day at a time, leaving the rest of it up to my agent," Preston said. "I'm going to go in next year in training camp, be more confident and more prepared."
As a member of Tennessee's practice squad, Preston simulates opponents' top receivers.
At Heidelberg, Preston was the top receiver.
Preston was one of those athletes who doesn't come around often. There were times, in his junior and senior years at Heidelberg, where he made catches and routes look effortless. They weren't and that was the key to his success. I don't think coach Mike Hallett or anybody else knew what they were getting when they recruited Preston, but what they got was one of the best receivers in program history. He had more than 2,700 yards receiving and 27 touchdowns, combining with quarterback Andrew Miller to create a connection that kept coordinators awake at night. Assuming that coordinators sleep in the first place.
But for all Preston accomplished, the teams he was on never did better than .500 in a season. His final season, 2010, saw the Princes go 5-5. I asked him if he wishes he could play in Saturday's playoff game with Wittenberg.
The answer was a quick "no."
"I feel like I did my part; this is these guys' journey," he said. "I will be proud to be there and watch."
Because the Titans are on a bye week, Preston said he's planning on coming to Frost-Kalnow Stadium Saturday for the Wittenberg game, returning to a stadium where he had a number of huge games.
But Preston said he will keep his distance, out of respect to the players.
"I don't want to be a distraction," he said. "Those guys have their own leadership."