Al "Buzz" Preston serves as the Offensive Coordinator for Thomas University's football team. Preston brings a wealth of experience having coached 37 years, all at the NCAA Division I level.
Preston arrives to the Rose City after spending 14 seasons as the Wide Receivers coach at Georgia Tech. With the Yellow Jackets, Preston played a large role in GT being named college football’s “Best Wide Receiver Factory” by ESPN, as he has developed six NFL wideouts on The Flats — Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos), Stephen Hill (New York Jets, Carolina Panthers), DeAndre Smelter (San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars), Darren Waller (Baltimore Ravens), Kevin Cone (Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns) and Ricky Jeune (Los Angeles Rams). Four of the six (Thomas, Hill, Smelter and Waller) were selected in the NFL Draft, headlined by Thomas, who was picked by the Denver Broncos in the first round (22nd overall) in 2010 and has amassed 629 receptions for 8,653 yards and 57 touchdowns in eight pro seasons. Thomas, a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, won Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos in 2016.
Under Preston’s tutelage at Tech, Thomas caught 46 passes for 1,154 yards, good for a remarkable 25.1 yards per reception, and was named first-team all-ACC as a junior in 2009. 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 were selected in the fourth and sixth rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft, respectively. Under Preston’s watch, Smelter became the 21st 1,000-yard receiver in school history in 2014, opposite of Waller, who also had a breakout year as a senior in ‘14 (17.0 yards per catch, six touchdowns). Most recently, Jeune caught 74 passes for 1,492 yards and 11 touchdowns under Preston’s tutelage from 2015-17. Jeune’s 21.8 yards per reception as a senior in 2017 led the ACC and ranked seventh nationally.
Prior to GT, Preston spent the 2007 season at New Mexico, 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).
Before New Mexico, Preston completed his second stint at Stanford after spending three seasons as running backs coach at Notre Dame (2002-04), coaching two 1,000-yard rushers (All-American Julius Jones and Ryan Grant). In his first stint with the Cardinal, Preston assisted in the team's 1999 Pac-10 championship and 2000 Rose Bowl.
Previous to Stanford, Preston served different roles at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 1998 after spending 1994-97 as Washington State's running backs coach, leading the Cougars 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 in 1997. One of Preston’s pupils, Mike Black, ran for 1,157 yards and earned all-conference recognition that season.
Before WSU, Preston coached the defensive backs at his alma mater, the University of Hawai'i, from 1987-1993. Preston’s seven-year stint 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.
Previous to his return to Hawai'i, Preston produced 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, Evan and Quinn. They also have a son-in-law Will Brown and a grandson, Joseph Roman (J.R.) Kanoa Brown.