True freshman Jabari Dean making an impact in the trenches
Jabari Dean puts his hands in the dirt, digs his cleats into the ground behind him and goes up against 22 and 23–year–olds on the offensive line.
Dean is only 18, and weighs 288 pounds at the defensive tackle position. The true freshman has started the past two games for Central Michigan and is making an impact on defense.
“It’s tough for him now; he’s 18–years–old and he’s going up against fourth and fifth–year seniors,” head coach Dan Enos said. “So, physically that might be tough at times, but he’s been doing a good job. He’s holding his own, getting disruptive at times.”
Seven Toledo offensive linemen that Dean faced last week were at or more than 300 pounds.
He found out he would earn playing time this season prior to CMU’s week–two matchup.
“Before the Michigan State game, I was in on a pass-rush package for third–and–long passing situations,” Dean said. “So, I knew I was playing after that. I was really, really excited for that game. I could not wait until third–and–long.”
Dean’s first start came against Northern Illinois three weeks later, and he started against Toledo again. He has helped the defense with 11 tackles.
Against Toledo, he was attributed with a forced fumble, but he said he thought it was rightfully his teammate’s after he recorded the initial tackle.
“I came in and hit him,” Dean said. “I think Leron (Eaddy) pulled it out. It feels great to know I’m helping the team; that is my job.”
Enos said he is excited to see Dean play after an offseason of working out in the program and doing training the correct way.
“We think by the time his career is done here, he will be a dominate player in this league,” Enos said. “We need to get him to 300 pounds. He’s very explosive, tough and a smart young man.”
Dean’s teammates on the other side of the ball have noticed his impact on defense. Wide receiver Courtney Williams said that Dean’s athleticism and feel for the game lets him become disruptive on defense.
The freshman lineman was quick to point out fellow freshman (redshirt) Louis Palmer as being disruptive too. Palmer had his first–career sack last week.
Dean’s smile expressed it all on what it meant for him to earn playing time his first season at CMU.
“It is a great opportunity to start as a true freshman,” he said. “I’m just trying to take advantage of that and help out the team.”
CMU hosts Navy at 8 p.m. Friday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
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