DeLeone Quickly Adapts to New Level

Dean DeLeone isn't your typical JC transfer, so it probably stands to reason that he has been able to hit the ground running. Early on in his first spring practice with the Sun Devils, the defensive end proved that he will figure in ASU's front four rotation. A fine performance in the spring game only reinforces the anticipation over this 25-year old former Coast Guard enlistee.

Dean DeLeone and the rest of the Arizona State defense, didn't like the fact that in the scrimmage preceding the spring game their unit was scored upon five times. Naturally it gave this side of the ball enough motivation that eventually manifested in nearly shutting down the Sun Devil offense, allowing just one touchdown in the spring game.

"We watched the film and it was ugly," DeLeone acknowledged. "So we thought we better be fired up today (in the spring game) and we played well as a whole unit. We just had more intensity today. Last week we were just bland, not ready to play. We just had a better attitude today.

"We have a lot of swag after the way we played all spring, especially after today. Our defense has depth; it has speed and plays with a lot of intensity."

DeLeone exemplified the defense's mindset last Saturday with a sack, four tackles, forced fumble and a pass deflection.

"My first spring game was a lot of fun," DeLeone stated. "I'm happy the defense played so well. The beginning of spring was a little rough for me. Coming from junior college I'm not used to practicing like this in the spring. The speed of the offensive line and the whole pace of practice are much faster. At the JC level you just go out there with what you have and here you need to concentrate on technique a lot more. Your gap responsibility is totally different too."

"Overall I think I had a decent spring, not great."

Grady Stretz, DeLeone's position coach, didn't spare any compliments concerning the newcomer to his unit.

"He's done very well," Stretz said. "He's been everything we hoped he would be. He's extremely coachable and has picked up the defense very well. He has a good understanding of what we are trying to accomplish. His technique and his understanding of his assignments have definitely grown.

"He's obviously been away from football for a while, but he rebuilt his body up. I saw him daily (during the spring) just continue to progress. He made some big plays for us today and I'm excited about his future. He's a great addition for us."

Arriving in Tempe in January, it was definitely a short off-season for the defensive end to prepare for spring practice. Nonetheless, it was known that the 6-2 245 DeLeone was already proving his work ethic in the weight room (for which he won ASU's ‘Hard Hat' award) and being a perfect leader by example.

"I was working out a lot back home before I got o ASU," DeLeone said. "So once I got here I never really missed a beat."

DeLeone's arrival also meant that linebacker Mike Nixon, was no longer the elder statesman on the squad. "I'm older than him," DeLeone admitted. "I beat him but just a few days. Even though I'm the oldest I have to take a step back and lead by example. I can't just come in right away and bark out some orders. I don't have that established yet, but if I see something that needs to be said I'll say it."

Even though he is younger than the player he is backing up, Dexter Davis, DeLeone knows that he has much to learn from the Pac-10's active leader in career sacks (16.5).

"Dexter has great technique and is very quick on his feet," DeLeone noted. "He's kind of similar to me in size maybe just a little heavier (Davis is listed at 6-2, 255). Because I don't have great technique personally I'm trying to learn from him, like getting my hands out and how to deal with much bigger offensive linemen.

"I'm faster than I am quick. My quickness is something I need to work on. My speed obviously helps, but there's still a lot of technique I need to mix up with my speed."

Backing up Davis, who started in all of the 38 colligate games he played in, doesn't crush any hopes DeLeone has of starting in his first season donning the maroon and gold.

"Everybody wants to start," DeLeone commented. "I'm not going to stand here and pretend that I don't care if I start or not, because I do. I'm going to do everything I possibly can to start. At the same time, even though I'm backing up a great defensive end I still get in a lot of plays.

"You can't beat this situation right now because we have a solid D-Line and I'm going to do whatever is best for the team."

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