Fayetteville High star and University of Arkansas commit Demetrius Dean was once a 235-pound wide receiver who impressed Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino enough to offer him a scholarship as a sophomore.
He's now a 6-foot-3, 260-pound senior-to-be tight end/middle linebacker who wants to get back to being known more for his play on the field than his weight gain.
"Like Coach Petrino said about three or four months ago, he is just not a 235 and never will be again," Fayetteville head coach Darryl Patton said. "He is a 260 and I think that right now he is in the best shape he has been in a long time. He had a great spring in terms of effort and working out. I am happy with where he is at right now."
Dean will still have his duties on offense where he caught 69 passes for 990 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, but is one of several players that will go both ways.
"I have been liking defense a lot," Dean said. "This is my first time playing defense, but I think I can do some good over there like I have been doing on offense.
"I like hitting," Dean noted.
Patton said that he moved Dean and tailback Dylan Hale over to defense because the Purple Bulldogs haven't really stopped many teams on defense the past two seasons.
"We have to be better on defense," Patton said. "We can't give up 30 points a game. Too many times we were having to win shootouts or losing shootouts. So we wanted to have a defense that was a little faster – put our fastest kids over there.
"We wanted to have better athletes so we took some of our skill guys and moved them over there as well to give us some better athleticism," Patton added. "We took our two best offensive lineman and they know are playing our two defensive tackles. They are very good with their hands and getting off blocks."
Dean is not locked into playing linebacker and could find a different spot on that side of the ball.
"We worked him at middle linebacker quite a bit this spring," Patton said. "He did a good job, but I feel like we have two good Mikes in Garrett Payne and Ben Dubois so we are probably going to look at him to a defensive end or defensive tackle. We just feel like with his athleticism he can help us on the defensive side of the ball as well."
Hale has certainly been a star at one of the outside linebacker spots.
"Dylan has done real well," Patton said. "I don't want to say that he is going to be the best in the conference, but it is going to be hard to somebody who covers like he does, that can cover and boy, he is physical. He will bring the hat."
Dean will continue to be used as a big-time weapon on offense – just lined up closer to Fayetteville quarterback and fellow Arkansas commit Brandon Allen.
"He will play more tight end," Patton said. "We are going to put his movement package in this fall where he is a little more H-back stuff. We played him strictly at tight end this spring. He has never played it before, but I thought he progressed nicely."
Dean is looking forward to that and knows he will still be able to split out and get a lot of mismatches near the goal line.
"I am going to go tight end and line up on the line," Dean said. "But sometimes I am going outside for jump balls and fades and stuff like that."
Dean may be 260, but he still has plenty of speed as evidenced by his 52-yard bomb that he caught from Allen in Friday night's scrimmage that ended spring drills.
"Brandon and I have a real good connection," Dean said. "We called the play and knew it was going to work because the safety came up. He saw me and I was gone with it."
Dean's Getting Defensive
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