Jhimon Preston’s 2019 season got off to a discouraging start, with the Fort Hays State defensive back suffering an elbow injury in the season opener that would sideline him for the next three games.

But after going through a season-ending injury earlier in his career, Preston was just thankful his season wasn't completely derailed this time.

“It’s frustrating, but I’ve been there before,” Preston said. “My redshirt freshman year, I tore my ACL the first game of the season. I’m just happy it wasn’t season-ending. I’m just trying to look at the positives, stay focused and just keep going.”

Preston didn’t miss a beat after returning from the injury, turning in a solid outing in the Tigers' 35-7 win at Central Oklahoma last  Saturday.

He said it was an easy transition back to the field.

“My legs weren’t broken; I just had a little elbow injury so I was still running, doing a lot of footwork stuff in practice and trying to stay in the groove and make sure I didn’t get out of shape,” said Preston, who logged seven tackles against UCO.

Preston received a medical hardship after suffering the ACL injury in 2017. He played in 10 games last year, logging 11 tackles before stepping into a starting role this season.

“I definitely don’t take anything for granted anymore,” Preston said. “Injures happen. Football doesn’t last forever, and I’m just cherishing every moment.”

FHSU coach Chris Brown said Preston’s return to the field helps bolster a young secondary who is improving each week.

"He brings energy to the defense," Brown said. "Pretty physical kid as well, likes to hit, likes to be aggressive, takes some chances every once in a while to make a play. But that's the kind of kid you want in your secondary to help you out."

The Tigers will play host to Emporia State (2-3)  at 7 p.m. for the Tigers’ homecoming at Lewis Field Stadium. Preston said the FHSU secondary will be tested by the mobility of ESU quarterback Dalton Cowan.

“We just got to stay on our man, stay in our zone with whatever coverage we’re running,” Preston said. “We can’t bite up. We can’t look to see what’s going on back there, we have to stay locked in on our man and if he does happen to get out of the pocket and throw it, we’ve just got to be there to make play.”