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Preston Lavant: “Flipping the Switch”

By Barry Every
SouthernPigskin.com
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As a sophomore Lavant racked up 69 tackles, nine QBH’s, four TFL’s, two sacks and two PBU’s.

“Coach Harber preaches a changing mindset to try to achieve something big, and we are all stuck on that. We are all ring chasing as a team.”
~Preston Lavant

Just before the start of the 2018 season Cordele (Ga.) Crisp County lost defensive standouts DeAngelo Griffin and Jammie Robinson; the pair chose to transfer to Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County for their senior year. Griffin would end up signing with Minnesota and Robinson with South Carolina.

This left Coach Brad Harber scrambling for answers on the defensive side of the ball just weeks prior to the start of the season. Thankfully the cupboard was not bare; Crisp County was blessed with one of the most talented 2021 defensive classes in the Peach State.

One of those talented players is 6-foot-2, 200-pound outside linebacker Preston Lavant. As a sophomore Lavant racked up 69 tackles, nine QBH’s, four TFL’s, two sacks and two PBU’s. He was part of a defensive unit that held their three region opponents to a mere 14 points.

“I just love his personality, he’s vocal on the field but at the same time he is a lunch pail guy,” Harber said. “He is fun to be around and very mature in his thinking while being a great team guy. He understands the importance of all three phases of the game, special teams, offense and defense.”

Lavant played a key role in the Cougars shutout win over eventual GHSA-AAAAA State Champion Bainbridge (Ga.). Crisp County created six turnovers on their way to a 23-0 victory. His football prowess did not go unnoticed as he was selected First Team All-Region 1-AAA. Lavant also earned an invitation to the Georgia Elite Classic Sophomore All-Star Game.

“He is a very instinctive player that is fleet of foot; he has changed the dynamics in games with several blocked punts,” Harber said. “He has that switch he flips when he gets between the white lines. Lavant is a very aggressive football player, but his intelligence makes him twice as good.”

At this time Lavant holds a 3.5 core GPA and has scored a 1010 on the PSAT. He is scheduled to take the SAT for the first time in August. Look for his GPA to continue rise; he made straight A’s this past semester while taking a college drafting class. Lavant aspires to be an architect, one day. His part-time job is working for a roofing company because he simply loves building things.

This past spring Lavant took part on the Cougar Track Team for the first time since eighth grade. He competed in the 4x100, 4x400, 200 and 400-meters. Next spring he plans on going back to his other athletic love –soccer, where he is a physical presence at left defensive back. In the weight room Lavant boasts a 255-pound bench, 465-pound squat and a 285-pound power clean.

He currently holds offers from Akron, Nebraska and West Virginia. He is also receiving heavy interest from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

“I see him as an outside linebacker at the next level with the possibility of becoming a strong safety,” Harber said. “He has the length and will continue to fill out. The thing I’m most proud of is his grades. He has never been a problem because he cares as much about academics as he does football. In the end I think he’ll be an FBS talent that any coach will love to have on his football team.”

Lavant has already unofficially visited Auburn for a spring practice and made a trip to Gainesville, Florida for the Gators’ spring game. Last year he camped at Vanderbilt and has future plans of showing off his skillset at Georgia, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

“I feel I’m a smart player and very aggressive for my size; I’m also very good when playing on the line because of my long arms,” Lavant said. “I just need to work a bit on my sideline to sideline speed to attract more offers. What sets me apart from most players is I’m chill off the field but a different, almost unrecognizable, player on the field. That’s why they call me Cloud Nine.”

 

Recruiting may be in the forefront, but leading the Cougars to the GHSA-AAA State Championship Game is what pushes this gridiron beast to succeed. Crisp County has never won a GHSA Title in football.

“I have to become a more vocal leader and lead my team to Atlanta,” Lavant said. “Coach Harber preaches a changing mindset to try to achieve something big, and we are all stuck on that. We are all ring chasing as a team.”

A state of bliss, elation or happiness is one definition of cloud nine. Another definition is a fluffy cumulonimbus cloud which is considered attractive. Lavant is surely not fluffy. He may be a mild mannered Clark Kent outside of football, but on the field of play he is able to attain a state of euphoria by inflicting his will. So when unsuspecting offensive opponent suddenly has their bell rung, they’ll know that number nine has flipped a switch.