DeLeone Takes Place as Elder Statesman

It's not too often that a newcomer instantly becomes the oldest member of a college football team, especially with linebacker Mike Nixon sitting at age 26 on the roster. Meet Dean DeLeone, already a great story off the field, now he's ready to make his mark on the field.

Mike Nixon was DeLeone's host on his recruiting trip and that's just where the irony begins. Nixon is no longer the oldest on the team.

"I am four days older than Mike," laughed DeLeone, "I am the oldest guy on the team."

DeLeone turned 26 on August 13th. Like his elder counterpart, Dean DeLeone had quite the journey before arriving in Tempe. After graduating high school in Utah, he enlisted in the Coast Guard and spent four years stationed in Newport Beach, California.

After serving in the Coast Guard, DeLeone went to Orange Coast College and started playing football again and was 2008 Defensive Player of the Year in their conference.

"I was the oldest guy on the team in junior college too," said DeLeone when asked if it was a little strange being with younger guys, "I get along with all the guys, so it's not bad. I have Mike to hang out with and be old with me."

The defensive end enrolled early and spent last spring at Arizona State. DeLeone admitted that coming in early benefited him immensely on and off of the field.

"I think it has helped me a great deal," DeLeone remarked. "Getting to school, learning where everything is and football things down. This was not my first time, since I did it in the spring I don't have to worry, it prepared me for that."

Joining the team as a mid-year transfer probably also helped DeLeone on the depth chart. After spending a lot of time with the second team, he has now elevated to the first team.

"I have been working as hard as I can possibly work. Now I'm working with the first team, getting reps in and feeling it out," DeLeone stated. "I'm excited; obviously it's always an exciting feeling when you get the promotion."

The defensive end attributed his promotion to his increased knowledge of the scheme.

"During the spring I was worried about my assignments and stuff," DeLeone said. "Now I can let loose and play football, since I know everything and now making more football plays instead of worrying if I was doing things right."

Dean DeLeone joins a defensive line that returns a lot of talent in Dexter Davis, Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola, but he says that he has had no problem fitting in and that Arizona State's front four is a very close group of guys.

"The defensive line is one of the tightest knit groups on the team. We get along off the field and we joke around and that makes us good on the field," DeLeone noted. "We have nasty attitudes and we like to hit hard. We like to hit the offensive line, we have a pretty good rivalry going and it's good for us and good for them."

The line is just one part of the defense that is expected to be strong; DeLeone says that the unit has looked the part so far.

"Our defense is playing well, today we had a dominating day," DeLeone said following Wednesday's practice. "The offense is putting things together. That is going to bode well for the team."

The junior doesn't have any personal goals, but shares the same team goal as a lot of the rest of the team.

"As a team goal, we'd like to win the Pac 10 Championship," DeLeone commented. "We think we can do that."

But for now he's just ready to lay the lumber on the team's first opponent.

"We're ready for Idaho State; it's time to hit somebody else."

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