Big Time JUCO Linebacker Has Duke Interested

When you come from the bloodlines of a former NFL standout, it's assumed you'll follow in his footsteps, but Orange Coast LB Dean DeLeone (6-2, 240) decided to take his own path. After a stint in the Coast Guard, the young man who hails from Park City, Utah is on the verge of having some choices to make in the near future as far as recruiting is concerned.

"When I was in the Coast Guard, I pretty much always thought I would end up playing football again eventually," DeLeone told recently. "I didn't get a lot of recruiting attention out of high school, so I thought it would be a good thing to go into the Coast Guard and see what else was out there and then after I did that, Orange Coast was where I ended up."

Even though the Pirates didn't end up having a winning season, their defense produced one of the best players in the country -- LB Shaun Mohler -- and DeLeone promises to pick up where his defensive partner left off.

"Shaun and I work out together all the time," DeLeone said. "He's getting ready to head to Colorado and he's really excited to get there.

"He and I talk all the time about things and how I'll be playing linebacker this year since I was at defensive end last year."

DeLeone initially expected to play the strongside spot opposite Mohler, but an injury to the starting defensive end changed things a bit.

"Our starter went down and our coaches decided to move me up and play end," DeLeone said. "The transition wasn't that tough really, but I was disappointed in my sack total."

Even though he wasn't happy with his number of sacks, he still managed to perform at an All-Conference level, totaling an amazing 85 tackles to go along with four sacks, 16 tackles-for-loss and one forced fumble.

This year, he'll move back to his more natural position and he said he already knows what he needs to work on.

"In high school, I was running 4.7's in the forty, but now I'm down quite a bit," DeLeone said. "I was just tested the other day and I ran a 4.45 so I have that where I'd like it to be.

"I'm really focusing on my pass-coverage this spring and during our offseason workouts. I want to get better in pass-coverage, like knowing where I'm supposed to be and recognizing routes and stuff like that.

"It's all about being flexible and breaking on passes quicker and recognition will help a lot with that."

In addition to his impressive speed, DeLeone also has excellent strength, including 26 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, and he also boasts a 36-inch vertical as well.

On the recruiting front, his coaches have already started to hear from schools who liked what they saw during the 2007 season.

"Montana State wanted to get me for this fall, but that wasn't able to happen," DeLeone said. "California, Duke, Oregon, Arizona and San Diego State are the ones calling about me right now, but my coaches said they expect more to come on soon.

"I'm looking for education first and foremost, because you can only play football for so long and you have to have something to fall back on. Then it's really about chemistry with the team and the coaches and if I have a chance to come in and challenge for a starting spot early."

His father, former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns great Tom DeLeone, has been a big influence in DeLeone's life and he expects the elder DeLeone to be a guide as he wades through the recruiting process.

"He's been through recruiting before so I'll rely on his advice a lot," DeLeone said. "He's been a big influence on me and that is comforting that he's been through it before and can give me advice."

DeLeone will graduate in December and he'll have three years to play two wherever he ends up.

We'll continue to follow DeLeone's progress through the May evaluation period and update news as it changes.

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