James Dean’s battle back to the field

Hayden Boudreaux

After being sidelined with an elbow injury last season, junior tight-end, James Dean has battled through his rehabilitation and is ready to make his presence felt in the 2014 season.

A two-time all-state football player, Dean played his high school football at Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga. After he received his first scholarship offer from the United States Naval Academy Dean was forced to consider a military lifestyle.

“I had never thought of a military life. Georgia Southern ended up being the first and only civilian school to offer me a scholarship. I chose Southern after careful prayer and thought after seeing the staff and the player-coach relationships of the team,” Dean said.

Once his decision was made to come to GSU, Dean was ready to take the field by storm. He quickly learned of the differences between his offense in high school and the famed triple-option of the Eagles. After an injury allowed Dean to join the travel squad he stepped on the field against Western Carolina University eager to prove himself.

In five carries Dean amassed 95 yards on the ground and his first collegiate touchdown. His performance won him several freshman player of the week awards and gave him future opportunities to get on the field. He kept up his hard work off the field as well, achieving a 4.0 GPA and a spot on the President’s List.

His sophomore season started off strong. He took the field in the second game of the season against St. Francis College prepared for a big game.

“It was a couple plays into the game. I was running the ball and someone took my legs out from under me and I landed on my arm wrong,” Dean said.

The team doctors originally believed there was a chance to brace up the arm and send Dean back onto the field. Upon closer examination they realized that Dean would be out for the rest of the season, the first season he had ever missed.

“That was tough, to sit on the sideline and watch everyone else go out and fight. (The rehab process) was long and I was restless to get back on the field,” Dean said.

The coaches and trainers limited Dean in practice. After being used to running around and lifting weights he would pace up and down the sidelines at practice gritting his teeth for some action. Eventually he started to make up small games on the sideline to give him some kind of activity. He would work on possession and reaction by seeing how long he could keep a football in the air, and even taught himself to throw with his non-dominate hand.

Originally, the doctors told him the process would take nine months to get back on the practice field. Showing off his no-excuses attitude, he was back on the field for spring practice only six months later, happy to be feeling collisions again.

When he reported for spring he quickly learned of his role in the new offense and it involved a new position. After playing running back for two seasons he was being moved to use his talents at tight end under the new Fritz offense.

“I’ve always dealt with the ball a little more than I have at this position. It took me a few days to wrap my head around the role change but I’ve always been a team player. If that’s where I need to be to help the team I’m going to play as hard as I can at that spot,” Dean said.

Dean showed off what he learned in the spring game. He took the field in front of the GSU crowd for the first time since his injury. He was able to shake off his nerves and head out to take his new spot at tight end. Late in the game, Dean released out on a route into the end zone where sophomore quarterback L.A. Ramsey saw him and fired a pass. Dean had fought through six months of rehab and a position change, and he was in the end zone once again.