Heidelberg alum Mike Preston caught two passes for 31 yards during the Tennessee Titans’ 14-10 win over the New York Jets on Monday.
After Preston’s first catch of the game, Monday Night Football’s color analyst Jon Gruden regaled Mike Tirico, his broadcast partner, with his knowledge of Heidelberg University.
“Heidelberg! I know a guy from Heidelberg,” said Gruden. “My dad went to Heidelberg and my mom went there.”
Jon’s father, Jim, graduated in 1958 and was enshrined in the Heidelberg Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993. Jim’s wife, Kathleen, graduated in 1961.
“How about Mike Preston? Representing the Student Princes,” Gruden continued.
“The what?” asked Tirico.
“The Heidelberg Student Princes, don’t you know?” teased Gruden. “Tiffin, Ohio. They’re the Student Princes. Preston will tell you.”
Preston, who played for Heidelberg from 2007-2010, was signed to the Titans’ practice squad before the 2011 NFL season.
He toiled on the scout team for the entire season before being resigned in the offseason.
Prior to the Titans game against Indianapolis, Preston was signed to the active roster.
In his NFL debut last week, Preston had one catch for 10 yards.
Following the conversation on the ESPN broadcast, the Heidelberg community took to social media to express their excitement Preston’s accomplishments and for the free publicity from Gruden.
“Heidelberg Student Prince, yo,” tweeted ESPN SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross ’88 from his Twitter account, @Buccigross.
Preston, who holds several career receiving records at Heidelberg, is not the first Student Prince to play in the NFL. In fact, he’s not the first ‘Berg alum to play wide receiver for the Titans organization.
Bill Groman, a ’58 classmate of Jim Gruden, played for the Houston Oilers prior to their relocation in 1997. Groman still holds the NFL rookie receiving record with 1,473 yards.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Preston is the 11th Heidelberg alum to play professional football.
Currently, three other alums work with the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith is a 1986 graduate, while Cleveland Browns scout Donovan Beidelschies graduated in 2000. Steve Devine, class of 1972, is a scout with the New York Giants.
Jim Gruden coached at Heidelberg and at the high school level before jumping up to coach in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He retired after serving as a scout for the San Francisco 49ers.
Following the win, which improved the Titans record to 5-9, Preston used his Twitter account to thank everyone, including Heidelberg head coach Mike Hallett and wide receivers coach Bryan Moore, for their overwhelming support.
The Titans will travel to Green Bay next week before hosting Smith’s Jaguars in the regular season finale.