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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    WR Dean set to show athleticism

    Wideout Delashaun Dean catches a pass during spring drills Monday. Arizona is looking to capitalize on the redshirt freshmans athleticism in its new spread offense.
    Wideout Delashaun Dean catches a pass during spring drills Monday. Arizona is looking to capitalize on the redshirt freshman’s athleticism in its new spread offense.

    On the back of redshirt freshman Delashaun Dean’s shoulder pads reads a motto the wide receiver has been using all spring: “”Go Hard.””

    Dean is indeed “”going hard”” and has rekindled a strong connection with quarterback Willie Tuitama in spring practice.

    As Dean grew up about an hour away from Tuitama in Fairfield, Calif., Tuitama claims it was because of him that Dean decided to play football at Arizona. The two had already met at the Nike Combine at Stanford in May 2005.

    “”When he came out here on his visit, I was his host. I showed him a good time,”” Tuitama said. “”That’s basically the reason he came here.””

    Despite undergoing season-ending knee surgery in October of his senior year of high school, Dean was still a four-star recruit (No. 19 overall at receiver) playing receiver and defensive back, as well as basketball in high school.

    The knee was an ongoing problem for Dean. He sat out the entire 2006 season recovering from the surgery and didn’t even start practicing until the spring scrimmage March 31, when he caught two passes for three yards.

    Dean, regarded as one of the most athletic receivers on the depth chart, has turned into an early favorite target for both Tuitama and Tyler Lyon in practice. And Dean said his rapport with the quarterbacks is only going to get better.

    “”I’m just trying to come out and work hard so I can contribute to our team’s success,”” Dean said. “”With this offense, it takes a lot of time, a lot more than a normal offense. It’s just all about reps and working every day in practice to get better. … Nothing is going to come easy.””

    Along with Terrell Reese, Dean is the tallest receiver on the team at 6-foot-4, and he has been praised for his quickness.

    “”He’s got really good ball skills and does a great job going to get the ball and making plays. He’s got great size and knows how to use his body to go up to catch a ball,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes.

    “”That’s a strength of his right now, is his ability to make plays when he’s covered. … His size and ball skills are pretty far along for a young guy.””

    But Dykes added that Dean must work on consistency, something his fellow receivers Reese and Terrell Turner are also struggling with.

    But with the new spread offense that relies heavily on the passing game, Dean can expect plenty of looks in the fall spelling junior B.J. Dennard at split receiver.

    “”He’s a real big target,”” Tuitama said of Dean. “”He has real good speed and has good hands. He’s been doing a real good job learning the offense because he didn’t really get to do much because of his knee. He had to sit out for a while, but he learned by watching.””

    Away from the field, Dean is known for being the personality of the offense.

    “”He’s a character,”” Tuitama said. “”He really brings a lot of life to the team, making people laugh and smile.””

    Tuitama and Dykes have both been impressed with Dean’s route-running and playmaking ability.

    “”Every time we get him in team situations, he seems to make all the plays,”” Dykes said. “”We’ve just got to do a good job of getting him the ball.””

    Of redshirting, Dean said it was nothing but a good learning experience for him.

    “”I’ve grown a lot,”” he said. “”Redshirting is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it gives you time to watch and learn from others in game situations.””

    He said he is expecting playing time in the fall and will try to “”Go Hard”” as often as possible.

    “”If you’re the No. 1 target or the No. 3 target, you’ve still got to contribute when your number is called,”” Dean said. “”You never know (what) your role is until game day, but you just have to prepare for anything, and that’s what I’m doing.””

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