|Coming into his own|
|Written by Mike Kelly|
|Sunday, 12 September 2010 08:39|
His eyes tell the story. If you look hard into the eyes of Appalachian State quarterback DeAndre Presley, you'll see a determination, a drive and a strong will to succeed. But you will also find a humble man that can turn a negative into a positive.
A quarterback by trade, Presley, who came to ASU three years ago from Middleton High School in Tampa, FL, had aspirations to be a starting quarterback.
Following a solid effort in the regular-season finale against Western Carolina in 2008 that earned him Southern Conference Freshman and Offensive Player of the Week honors (the first player to accomplish that feat in 17 years), Presley stumbled in last year's season opener at East Carolina when Armanti Edwards, without question the best player in ASU history, was sidelined by a foot injujry.
He was eventually moved to wide receiver, but despite the position change, Presley never lost faith.
"I really hit a fork in the road," he said. "I could sulk and let it get to me, or I could take advantage of my situation. So I decided to make the most out of playing wide receiver. If I could help the team win at my new position, so be it."
But little did anyone know that Presley was actually benefiting from the positional change.
"Playing wide receiver actually gave me a different look at playing quarterback," he said. "It taught me how the two positions can work together by learning from each other's traits. It really opened my eyes.
"Now I know where a receiver feels comfortable on the field, and where he likes to have the ball thrown."
And playing behind a guy like Edwards didn't hurt, either. Afterall, Edwards, the only two-time Walter Payton Award winner, led the Apps to a pair of national championships and a Final Four appearance.
"I learned a lot from him," Presley said. "He was always positive and confident. He wasn't afraid of a challenge, no matter what the situation was. And he never gave up on a play. He pushed us to be better.
"And that's my goal with this team. Like I've said before, I'm just the point guard, the set-up guy. It's my job to get the ball to our players where they can be successful."
But Presley isn't too shabby himself. He was named the SoCon Offensive Player of the Week and the National Offensive Player of the Week by The Sports Network last week following his efforts at Chattanooga. He sparked a 28-point comeback in the fourth quarter that gave ASU a come-from-behind 42-41 win.
He followed that up with 386 total yards and a career-high four touchdown passes against Jacksonville in Appalachian State's 45-14 home-opening win on Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
"I'm not surprised at all about DeAndre," said ASU coach Jerry Moore. "When we recruited him, he reminded our coaching staff a lot of Armanti, and if Richie (Williams) was still here, he would have reminded us of him. He has great leadership qualities.
"But he also has his own personality. He's a blue-collar guy. He works very hard in practice, and he was determined to be our starting quarterback. I'm very pleased with what he's done so far."
Presley showcased his moxie last week at Chattanooga. With his team down by three touchdowns, Presley never quivered in the teeth of the storm.
"DeAndre was cool and calm in the huddle," said running back Cedric Baker. "He did that through the whole game. He had the confidence in us to come back. And we have the confidence in him to be our leader."
But Presley knows it takes a team effort to be successful. And his thanks go out, especially to the guys up front, the offensive linemen.
"I see those guys at practice everyday and how hard they work," he said. "I couldn't do what I'm doing without them. I love those guys, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world."
And with Montana losing on Saturday to Cal Poly, there's a good chance ASU, currently ranked third in the country in both the FCS Coaches Poll and The Sports Network Poll, will probably be ranked No.1 in the country this week. But for Presley, his ultimate goal is to put his team in a position to win every time he steps on the field.
"I'm not at all surprised about what he did from the wide receiver position last season," Moore said. "That's just how DeAndre is. He's a team guy. He'll do what it takes to make the team better. That's why he's a very good leader. And he's also a great person. And I really believe you can win with people like that."
So far, the results have been perfect.
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