Raymond "Duke" Preston, a five-year veteran of the National Football League and an offensive lineman at the University of Illinois from 2000-04, was named Program Director for the University of Notre Dame's Student Welfare and Development (SWD) Office on Jan. 14, 2013.
In his position, Preston plays a key role in developing Notre Dame student-athletes personally, professionally and spiritually.
"The word that I have found to best describe this opportunity at Notre Dame is `privileged,'" Preston says. "There is a distinct honor in being afforded the opportunity to work alongside some of the most impressive and qualified people in the realm of higher education and athletic administration.
"My role allows me daily interaction with our talented student-athletes who will undoubtedly become leaders in whatever field they choose. I'm hopeful that my passion for developing young people personally, professionally and spiritually will result in a lasting positive impact on their lives. Notre Dame is a remarkable place and I couldn't be more thankful for the privilege of making a contribution here."
Preston graduated from Illinois in 2004 with a degree in speech communications after playing four seasons on the Fighting Illini football team. A three-year letterman and starter, he served as team captain and earned the team's Offensive Player of the Year honor in his senior season in '04 while garnering honorable mention all-Big Ten honors. During his career, he made 35 consecutive starts.
Following graduation, Preston was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills and spent four seasons with that organization. In his rookie season with the Bills, he was named to The Sporting News All-Rookie Team. While in Buffalo, he played in 61 games and made 21 starts.
In 2009, he signed a contract with the Green Bay Packers before being released and then signed with the Dallas Cowboys. He played one season in Dallas before retiring from the NFL after five seasons.
While in Buffalo, Preston was honored on several occasions for his commitment to community service at the Northwest Buffalo Community Center where he worked with youth programs and schools throughout the greater metropolitan area.
Prior to accepting the position at Notre Dame, Preston served as director of the Northwest Dallas (Texas) area Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In his position there, he oversaw FCA programs at more than 100 area college, high school and middle school groups. With Dallas FCA, he also was the area spokesman for the One Way 2 Play -- a drug and alcohol free initiative -- and spoke at school assemblies and to sports teams throughout the Dallas area. He successfully led projects and created and implemented key educational curriculum for nearly 2,000 students who attended summer and winter camps. Preston also helped coordinate the efforts of more than 400 collegiate volunteers at those camps.
Currently, he is enrolled in the Dallas Theological Seminary and is expected to receive a master's degree in Christian education in spring 2013.
Preston and his wife, Lisa, were married in February of 2007 and are the parents of two children, Maya and Raymond.