Nobody is more determined to find the next great Georgia Tech wide receiver than coach Al “Buzz” Preston
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Al “Buzz” Preston, who has coached in every American time zone and enjoyed success from Atlanta to Honolulu, is in his 10th season as wide receivers coach at Georgia Tech.
Preston has played a large role in Georgia Tech being named college football’s “Best Wide Receiver Factory” by ESPN, as he has developed five NFL wideouts in his first nine seasons on The Flats — Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), Stephen Hill (New York Jets, Carolina Panthers), DeAndre Smelter (San Francisco 49ers), Darren Waller (Baltimore Ravens) and Kevin Cone (Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns).
Four of the five (Thomas, Hill,
Under Preston’s tutelage at Tech, Thomas caught 46 passes for 1,154 yards, good for
Hill collected more than 1,200 career receiving yards to go with nine touchdown receptions at Georgia Tech and led the nation in yards per reception (29.3) as a junior in 2011. He was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Jets.
Preston also mentored both Smelter and Waller who
In 2016, Preston’s starting wideouts (junior Ricky Jeune and sophomore Brad Stewart) combined for 44 receptions, 809 yards and 18.4 yards per catch.
Preston has 36 years of coaching experience, all at the NCAA Division I level. His notable stops prior to Georgia Tech include:
- in his lone season at New Mexico (2007), helping lead the Lobos to their first bowl win in 45 years and coaching first-team all-Mountain West running back Rodney Ferguson (1,177 yards 13 TDs);
- two stints at Stanford (1999-2001, 2006), where he helped lead the Cardinal to the 1999 Pac-10 championship and 2000 Rose Bowl, its first appearance in the “Granddaddy of Them All” in 28 years;
- coaching two 1,000-yard rushers (All-American Julius Jones and Ryan Grant) in three seasons as running backs coach at Notre Dame (2002-04);
- helping lead Washington State to one of the best seasons in program history when it went 10-2, won the Pac-10 title and earned its first Rose Bowl berth in 67 years as RB coach in 1997. One of Preston’s pupils, Mike Black, ran for 1,157 yards and earned all-conference recognition in ‘97;
- taking on several roles (coaching receivers and defensive backs, assisting with special teams and strength and conditioning) while serving on the same staff as current Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson at Hawai’i (1987-93). Preston’s seven-year stint at his alma mater included the first Western Athletic Conference championship (1992), the first bowl appearance (1989 Aloha Bowl vs. Michigan State) and the first bowl win (1992 Holiday Bowl vs. Illinois) in program history;
- producing nine all-conference honorees in three seasons at his first full-time job, coaching wide receivers and defensive backs at Southern Illinois (1984-86).
Prior to becoming a full-time coach, Preston was a graduate assistant at Hawai`i in 1980 and 1981, a part-time coach at UH in 1982 and a graduate assistant at Washington in 1983. During his career, Preston has also served as a guest coach for the Toronto Argonauts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles.
A native of Los Angeles, Preston received a bachelor’s degree in speech from Hawai`i in 1982, where he was a two-year letterwinner (1978-79) for the Rainbows football team. He graduated from Banning High School in Los Angeles in 1975.
Preston and his wife, Audrey, have three children: Amber,
|THE AL PRESTON FILE|
|Family||wife Audrey; children Amber, Evan, Quinn|
|Alma Mater||Hawai'i, 1982|
|1980-81||Hawai'i||Graduate Assistant (Wide Receivers)|
|1982||Hawai'i||Part-Time Assistant (Wide Receivers)|
|1983||Washington||Graduate Assistant (Defensive Backs)|
|1986||Southern Illinois||Defensive Backs|
|1994-97||Washington State||Running Backs|
|1998||UNLV||Assistant Head Coach / Off. Coord. / QBs|
|2002-04||Notre Dame||Running Backs|
|2007||New Mexico||Running Backs|
|2008-present||Georgia Tech||Wide Receivers|