DOVER — Robert Presbury was a football star at Delaware State in the 1980s.
But the former defensive lineman says you have to step away from a place sometimes to realize how much it meant in your life.
Presbury said that’s how it was with him and DSU.
“Honestly, it took me about 10 years after I left to really realize the opportunity that Delaware really gave to me,” he said. “It hit home.
“Coach (Bill) Collick, he had a lot of quotes, a lot of sayings. All of them came true. We were young kids and really didn’t know. When you get out in the real world, it really shows you what it’s about. It really made me think how blessed I was to have an opportunity to play at Delaware State University.”
More than three decades after Presbury finished his playing career with the Hornets, he’s trying to give something back.
With the Hornets hosting South Carolina State for Homecoming on Saturday at 2 p.m., the 56-year-old Virginia Beach, Virgina, resident is undertaking a 130-mile bike ride to the game. In return, he’s asking people to donate money to the DSU football program.
Presbury, who’s working with former coach Collick on the project, is hoping to get $250 donations from 100 people for a total of $25,000 going to help with improvements for the program.
The DSU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee came up with the 130-mile distance because it’s the school’s 130-year anniversary. Presbury said he’d like to see the Hornet football program be able to do more with recruiting or make other improvements.
“In order for us to get better, we have to start giving back to the program and try to get some stuff done,” he said. “(Rod) Milstead, I think he’s a great coach. He needs more opportunities.
“I jumped in with both feet and I’m trying to support our program and get it to grow. It’s mostly pride. I played in an era where we had three (MEAC) championships, multiple players were All-Americans and our stands were filled. In order to get that back, we’ve really got to fight as a whole and see what we can get done.”
A former MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, Presbury had tryouts with both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins while playing in both the World and Canadian football leagues in the early 1990s.
After his playing career was over, he became the director of a Boys’ and Girls’ Club and now works as a refrigeration technician.
A few years ago, Presbury took up cycling, eventually joining a Virginia Beach club. He’s made five rides of over 100 miles, going as far as 157 on one.
“I had gotten into doing some triathlon stuff but the running was kind of hard on my knees and my back,” he said. “I kind of gravitated to the bike and I love it. I’m definitely enjoying it right now.”
On Friday, he’s planning on departing Eastern Shore Community College in Virginia at 4:30 a.m. for the 130-mile trek to Dover. Presbury will go through Pocomoke City and Berlin, Maryland, before reaching the Delaware border and coming up U.S. 13.
“I’m very comfortable with it,” he said about the distance. “I’ll have a few team members riding with me so I’ll have that support.”