From the time the could walk until he was 4 years old, Preston Carey played soccer.
And he was really good at it.
He would be able to do what’s called “banana kicks,” where you strike the ball in a way that causes it to curve laterally in the air.
But as the hat tricks piled up, so did the one problem that led him to leave soccer.
“It got to a point where I used to get red cards and I was way too aggressive and my coaches would take me out,” said Carey.
So, his father determined maybe soccer wasn’t the right sport for Preston and looked up youth football clubs near their home in East Northport.
“He put me in Northport Youth Football Club and he ended up coaching and it kind of just went from there,” said Carey.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Yet this history is still very much in the making.
Football certainly worked out for “PJ” as he is opening up eyes all over the country as a freshman defensive lineman for the St. Anthony’s High School varsity team. (Consider also, it’s a rarity for a freshman or even a sophomore to play varsity for the Friars in South Huntington.)
The 6’5” 270-pound Carey has already received ten Division 1 college offers.
Again, he’s only a freshman.
[Top: Preston Carey is on the far right, No. 99. St. Anthony’s courtesy photo.]
Carey is not overwhelmed by the attention he’s getting because he’s been preparing for this for quite some time. And once that first D-1 offer came in from LSU, his mission statement is well on track to come to fruition.
“I’ve been playing football since I was 5 years old so since that age, I wanted to go D-1 and go to the NFL,” said Carey. The first offer from LSU “was all kind of part of that goal and that was the real first step in that direction, to see if I was the real deal and to see if I really had it in me.”
In addition to LSU, Carey has received Division 1 offers from Temple, Georgia, Michigan, Syracuse, Rutgers, Tennessee, Western Illinois, Texas A+M and Penn State.
That number is going to continue to grow and he knows it.
“Even with all of the offers now, I don’t think it’s overwhelming because I know it’s just going to get more and more so if I let this be overwhelming then I won’t be able to handle the bigger goals that I have like being a very good player in college and the NFL,” said Carey.
Preston is a big man, but he’s only intimidating when he has to be. Away from football, he’s what you’d call a “gentle giant”.
When he steps on the field, he flips the switch to the outstanding player that he is but when he’s off the field, the switch is flipped back to Preston Carey the model human being.
“I always try to be as kind as I can,” said Carey, who also wrestles for St. Anthony’s. “I always say that I’m a way different person on the field between whistles than I am off the field. Even when I’m on the sideline, I’m way different than I am when I’m playing.”
Believe it or not, Carey didn’t initially play defensive line when he first started playing football.
He did start out as a linebacker on defense, but from the time he was 5 years old until he was 10, Preston was a quarterback which is amazing to comprehend given his size today. But playing quarterback helped him learn a lot about the game of football.
“That’s where I get my basic IQ from,” said Carey who learned at a doctor’s visit this past June that he is still growing.
“I was growing a lot over the years and became a little bit bigger and we ended up switching another kid to QB and I played running back. My favorite part of this game is the aggression and hitting people. I’m aggressive and I like to hit people and this is what I like to do in football.”
Considering all that, it should not come as a surprise that his favorite NFL team is the Seattle Seahawks. When the Seahawks defense was known as the “Legion of Boom,” led by the likes of Bobby Wagner, Kam Chancelor and Richard Sherman, Preston was hooked.
“They won that Super Bowl, and that was when I really liked them and I just stuck with them ever since,” said Carey.
Where his football journey takes him is still to be determined, but deep down inside Preston Carey is a Long Island boy who also has a life away from the gridiron. So, when he’s not playing football, Carey certainly enjoys life on Long Island.
Favorite thing about Long Island:
“Definitely Long Island in the summer. Once May hits and the pools are open and you got Fire Island and Montauk and when it’s hot, Long Island is bumping for me. The beach … I surf so anything like that for me is awesome.”
Favorite restaurant: “I would say Matteo’s in Huntington.”
Favorite food: “Definitely Italian food or Caribbean and Indian food.”
Favorite sport other than football: “I love to watch basketball and I love to play. I definitely love to shoot hoops and watch basketball.”
Preston certainly has short-term and long-term goals.
The immediate task at hand is a huge game for St. Anthony’s on Friday night, Oct. 28, at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains. The Friars are 6-0 and atop the AAA Catholic High School Football League, and they are 7-1 overall, while Stepinac is in third place at 5-1 in league and 7-1 overall.
Beyond this game and over the course of the next three seasons for St. Anthony’s, Carey continues to work hard on and off the field to get better and to put himself in the position to realize his long-term aspirations of playing Division 1 college football and eventually playing in the NFL.
“Even my best attributes on the field…I always say I can improve everything,” said Carey. “Even if I can look at the things that I’m not good at and say I can improve them, the things that I’m good at…I can’t just not improve them. I need to improve overall if I want to be a great player and be one of the top if not the top player in the country for my class.”
While Preston’s football success has been driven by his size and strength, you can’t dismiss the passion and the love that he has for the game of football. Heart and determination can play as big a role as anything when it comes to a player’s success or failure in football or in any sport.
That’s Carey’s message to anyone who loves football and wants to give it a try, regardless of how big or small they are.
“I always say to kids that love football and just have the potential even if they’re a little undersized just work towards football, grind and don’t do anything other than football and anything can happen.”
A lot is happening for Preston Carey, a Long Island kid who has incredible talent but he is so much more than that. He’s a terrific young man with a good head on his shoulders and is determined to be a success in life both on and off the football field.
He is the total package that any college would be looking for.