After welcoming in a dozen early enrollees in January, the rest of Alabama’s 2022 class is set to arrive on campus at the end of the month. The Crimson Tide will be joined by 11 freshmen summer arrivals as well as junior college transfer Miles Kitselman, who committed to Alabama earlier this month.
Over the next two weeks, BamaCentral will break down the arrivals one by one. Today we continue with SI99 wide receiver Shazz Preston.
Preston comes to Alabama ranked as the No. 72 overall player in this year’s SI99. His signing represents another win for Nick Saban and his staff as the Crimson Tide once again dipped into the Pelican State to pluck the Saint James, La., native away from LSU.
Preston, 6-foot, 190 pounds, is able to beat defenders in a variety of ways. While he doesn’t quite have the same blazing speed as some of Alabama’s other incoming receivers, he has still shown the ability to be a big-play threat in the passing game. He also has impressive body control which allows him to pull off contested catches. During his senior season, he recorded 65 receptions for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Preston also comes from a football family as his brother Shawn is a redshirt senior safety at Mississippi State.
How he fits into Alabama
While Preston isn’t going to beat fellow incoming freshman receivers Isaiah Bond, Aaron Anderson, Kendrick Law and Kobe Prentice in foot races, he’s not lacking in terms of athleticism himself. A three-sport star in high school, he also competed in basketball and track and field. That’s evident in the way he plays as he is just as capable of picking up yards in open space off of screens and short passes as he is at running down deep balls.
Alabama generally likes its receivers to be able to work anywhere on the field. Preston’s versatility allows him to do that as he is shifty enough to excel at the slot position while still being sturdy enough to play on the perimeter.
Alabama sees Preston as a long-term replacement for departing receiver John Metchie III, who recorded 151 receptions for 2,058 yards and 23 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Preston shares a similar size and skill set to Metchie and could be in a position to match the departing starter’s production later in his career.
What to expect next year
Alabama lost three starting wideouts this offseason in Metchie as well as Biletnikoff finalist Jameson Williams and slot receiver Slade Bolden. The Crimson Tide also lost two reserve receivers to the transfer portal as Javon Baker left for Kentucky while Agiye Hall followed tight end Jahleel Billingsley to Texas.
Normally, that amount of departures would open more of an opportunity for freshmen receivers to break into the first-team offense. However, Alabama was also able to bring in a pair of highly-touted wide receivers through the transfer portal in Jermaine Burton (Georgia) and Tyler Harrell (Louisvillle), who are both expected to take on starting spots this season. On top of those two additions, the Crimson Tide returns juniors Traeshon Holden and Thaiu Jones-Bell as well as a trio of promising sophomores in Ja’Corey Brooks, JoJo Earle and Christian Leary.
Preston will also have to catch up to fellow freshmen receivers Kendrick Law and Aaron Anderson, who joined the team as early enrollees this spring. Due to all of the above, early playing time might be hard for him to come by this season.
“They’re going to let me be a ballplayer like I’ve been doing over here,” Preston told reporters following his commitment to Alabama. “They’ve got a full plan for me, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for me.”