Two months ago, new Alabama commit Jhavonte Dean was offered by Oregon State, Utah and UCF. His hard work was paying off, but he had bigger dreams.
TCU, Kentucky, Florida and then Alabama offered June 20. That is when the joking around with his teammates ceased.
Dean, the nation’s No. 1 junior college cornerback from Blinn College, would joke with his teammates several months before that date saying Alabama had offered him a scholarship knowing the program had not shown any interest.
On Saturday, that joke turned into reality.
“I didn’t think this was ever possible,” Dean told SEC Country. “Coming out of high school and going into junior college, I didn’t think I would ever be an Alabama commit. I didn’t think they would even offer me. I used to always play around with my teammates and say that Alabama is going to offer me. I can’t do that anymore.”
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound prospect earned his offer at Alabama’s camp in June after posting a 4.3 second 40-yard dash. Dean’s blistering 40 time would have been the fastest at this year’s NFL combine. Keith Marshall, a former Georgia running back, had the fastest 40 time at the combine posting a 4.31.
When the stopwatches showed Dean’s 4.3 time, all of the coaches gathered at the finish line to see if he can match his time. He did.
“The coaches were all really excited,” Dean said. “They all wanted to see me run it again because they didn’t believe it. They were just telling me how good of a job I did.”
The 4-star prospect told his parents that he believed a commitment to Alabama was likely this past weekend if they liked the school as much as he did. His parents had zero complaints with the school. They liked Alabama’s plan for their son’s academic wishes to pursue a degree in sports medicine and enjoyed hearing about what the Crimson Tide can offer him opportunities off the field to succeed.
When it was time to commit, Dean sat with his parents in Nick Saban’s office and delivered the news. He saw something that he hadn’t seen before.
“He was pretty excited. I had never seen him smile before that. He gave a little grin,” Dean said with a laugh.
Saban’s plans for Dean include him competing for one of the outside cornerback positions from Day 1. He told Dean he thinks Tide sophomore cornerback Minkah Fitzpatick is perfect at nickelback, which means Dean could plug in for Fitzpatrick’s spot if he does move in 2017.
What really caught Dean’s eye, outside of the potential to come in and play immediately, was the support system from all of the coaches. He said that was the main reason why he ended up choosing the Crimson Tide.
“They are really straightforward about everything,” Dean said. “One of the coaches took out a book that showed everything an NFL corner needs. He showed me all of the attributes they need. I thought that was pretty nice.”
The coaching staff believes Dean has three of the most important intangibles when it comes to being a successful cornerback: Speed, length and ball skills.
Dean, who signed with Cincinnati out of high school, has had a wild recruiting ride to Alabama, but that is not what makes him unique, according to Blinn College defensive back Norman Reeves, who is Dean’s roommate.
“My roommate says my super long nails is the most interesting thing about me,” Dean laughed.
Dean will have three years at Alabama to play two seasons for the Crimson Tide meaning the coaching staff could elect to use a redshirt if they choose to do so.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.