Four-star St. James WR Shazz Preston weighs in on NIL

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 11:41 PM CDT
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VACHERIE, La. (WVUE) - As a former offensive lineman at Southern University, head coach Robert Valdez missed his chance at cashing in on Name, Image and Likeness.

“I probably would’ve been the face of all of the fried chicken places,” jokes Valdez. “Popeye’s, I’m ready baby.”

But that said, Valdez does send many athletes from St. James High School to some of the top programs in the nation. So he certainly recognizes the good and bad that comes with this new twist on college athletics that allows athletes to make some serious money.

“These kids right now do so much for the universities,” says Valdez. “My only concern is the abuse of it because you still have to be able to juggle books. Academics first. These kids need to understand that it’s OK to get paid, but that college diploma is priceless.”

That’s part of the lesson Valdez preaches to one of his players, Shazz Preston, a four-star receiver that will be weighing his name, image and likeness options once he heads to college next year.

“(I’m) really just sitting back on it and see how it all plays out since it’s brand new and see how other people’s take of it,” says Preston. “I can be better at what the other people are doing since they’re doing it so fast. So I just take my time on it, and whenever I get the opportunity to get a program under my name, I know how to take care of it.”

That program could be one of many great ones, including LSU, Alabama, Georiga, Clemson, Texas and USC, all of which Preston’s visited this summer.

“I don’t think it changes recruiting much for him,” says Valdez. “I think he’s pretty much at a level right now where the ball’s in his court. He’s going to have some tough decisions to make. I think his parents, because he has an older brother at Mississippi State, can see how it goes and then can learn from that. By time he gets there, he’ll have a game plan and at least an understanding of how to handle it.”

“He always shows me the do’s and don’ts throughout this process,” says Preston. “He just educates me on what to look at and what not to look at.”

For now though, Preston says NIL hasn’t changed his thought process much on where he’ll play ball in the future.

“They’re all the same to me,” says Preston. “I don’t have favorites in this recruitment process. I don’t show favorites. I do appreciate all the colleges that put interest in me.”

Until he does head to college though, Preston remains locked in where he’s at. He experienced a championship at St James two years ago, and he’s doing everything he can to bring them another one as a senior.

“The thing about it right now, he’s really trying to make his teammates better,” says Valdez. “We know what he can do, and everybody knows what he can do. The only thing we can probably do different is change his number. They’ll find him eventually. He’s a workhorse. He works hard, deserving of all of the accolades and recruitment. It gives us something that we know we can go to. Everybody knows he’s our guy. They knew last year that we were going to throw the ball to him. We need other guys to make some plays offensively to give him a little bit of support.”

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