Persistence pays off for WVU football’s Xavier Preston

MORGANTOWN, WV - OCTOBER 20: The West Virginia Mountaineers defense stops John Hubert
MORGANTOWN, WV - OCTOBER 20: The West Virginia Mountaineers defense stops John Hubert /

Xavier Preston has played in 32 career games for the WVU football team. On Sunday, he gets to start at linebacker for the first time.

The patience and persistence needed to go through the motions for three years takes a lot of courage. Preston obviously has Division I talent and he has shown his ability on the playing field the past three years.

But to finally get the chance to run out of the tunnel and know you are about to make an impact right away has to be one of the most gratifying feelings in the world.

Preston will suit up at SAM linebacker alongside Al-Rasheed Benton and Dylan Tonkery. Benton is the most experienced player and he has stuck out the most out of almost any defensive player on the WVU football team.

What sticks out to Preston is that the whole defensive unit, and team in general, is not really filled with ‘me-first’ type players. They have proven in camp that they will carry with them an underdog mentality throughout the entire season. That kind of mentality means respecting their opponents each week and never looking ahead to the next game.

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If that happens, it truly will be a great season. Everything starts on Sunday, though. Facing Virginia Tech means a lot to the WVU football fanbase. And the players are starting to see the importance of this great rivalry game that hasn’t been played in 12 years.

It starts with Virginia Tech. Preston told Jim Butta of the Wheeling Intelligencer he hopes the season ends with a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game and a top-ranked bowl game. But, only time will tell.

"“I project us being a team. A whole unit, not just one game one side of the ball is doing well. I predict us to all come together during the season and be a team and have something this state can be proud of.”"

Starting the season right with a win against Virginia Tech will pump new-found optimism into the WVU football fanbase. It’s important for Preston in his first start to show that he can help shut down the Hokies offense and get things started on a productive season.

Again, it always comes down to the unit playing together. With the Tony Gibson-coined DAWGS mentality of the WVU defense, the defensive players are fired up. caught up with Xavier Preston. The Florida native stuck to his guns referring to the team mentality.

"“We have been waiting on this for a long time. As far as emotions, that is going to flow naturally. We are all ‘dawgs.’ We just go out there and fight. It’s the way we were taught, the way we play everyday.”"

There are a lot of new faces on the defensive unit. There are a lot of guys out to prove themselves. For guys like Preston, it means taking this shot and making the most of it. As hard as it was to become a starter, it could be pretty easy to lose that job after a few mistakes.

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Mistake-free football will win games against any opponents. That includes the highly-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys, Oklahoma Sooners, Kansas State Wildcats and, of course, the Virginia Tech Hokies.