JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF REPORTER
MARBLE FALLS — The biggest reason Preston Richardson wanted to attend Faith Academy of Marble Falls is because he found a faculty, staff, and student body that believed in him, he said.
He honored that belief when he signed his National Letter of Intent on Feb. 3 to attend Southern Nazarene University, a member of the NCAA Division II Great American Conference, on a football scholarship. He was one of 47 signees to play for new head coach Andy Lambert.
The school is located in Bethany, Oklahoma, and has approximately 2,100 students.
“I knew if I came here, I could fulfill that,” Richardson told the crowd during his signing. “I did a lot of praying about it, and God directed me to this school.”
“He said he felt like the Lord was leading him here,” said Flames head coach Stephen Shipley. “That’s all that matters. You have to go to where your heart tells you.”
Richardson played almost two years on a sprained ankle and just about every position on the field except quarterback.
“We saw him throw,” Shipley joked. “I can’t imagine him playing at a hundred percent.”
His father, Jim Richardson, the Flames’ defensive coordinator, said his son was one of the highest-rated prospects for the SNU Crimson Storm.
“I do believe as a father, he really deserves this,” Jim Richardson said. “I remember him being in the sixth grade in the front yard pulling a tire because he wanted to get faster. And I didn’t tell him to; he does what he does.”
Richardson will play an outside linebacker and safety hybrid.
Fans know what Richardson means to the Flames on the field. Shipley said he will most miss what the athlete does for his teammates.
“He’s a hard one to lose because of his leadership and what he represents to this school,” Shipley said.
Athletics director and boys head basketball coach Randy Denton commended the youngster for staying focused on his goal of playing college football. He noted Richardson didn’t skip a lifting session, even if that meant using the equipment outside on the campus parking lot.
“It’s easy to say I want to be a college player, I want to get good grades,” he said. “The hard thing is to fulfill them. He let it be known he’s playing college football. He’s doing the best he can to make his dreams come true.”