FT. SMITH — Daytrieon Dean wanted to go ahead and take care of his college choice before concentrating on his senior season at Northside.
Even better for Dean, he’s going with the team he cheered for growing up. On Tuesday in a ceremony at the Northside cafeteria, Dean — who plays defensive end for the Grizzlies — officially signed an athletic financial aid agreement with the University of Arkansas.
“It takes a load off of me, and even though the spotlight’s still on me, it takes a lot of weight and pressure off of other college coaches either calling my phone, texting me messages and on Twitter, so it takes a lot of pressure off,” Dean said. “I’m just happy but I’ve still got to help my team win this year and finish with a state championship.”
Dean chose the Razorbacks over a number of other schools, including Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. He said regardless of which school he picked, he wanted to go through the process of enrolling early. Dean start classes at Arkansas in January.
“Last year, I decided that whatever college I wanted to go, I wanted to go early and try to get a lot of experience and strength and academic-wise, too. So I sat down with my counselors and planned it out how I was going to do it,” Dean said. “I had to take a summer class at UAFS, Freshman Comp I, and I passed that with a B. So that took care of my lone English credit … so after I did that, I just had to get eligible by the NCAA, send my transcripts in and get accepted to the U of A.
Dean is the first Grizzly to sign with Arkansas since 2007. Northside coach Mike Falleur hopes Dean begins a trend of future Grizzlies considering the Razorbacks.
“Obviously, that will all be their decision, but it’s our in-state school and something we need to take a lot of pride in,” Falleur said. “Hopefully, they’ll look at Dean and see that he’s handled his business out there on the field and in the weight room but also in the classroom where it’s so important to meet the academic requirements that you have to, but we would love to have several guys go and play, and if not there, then anywhere to play college football.”
As a junior last season, Dean recorded 50 tackles and six sacks. He’s currently rated the No. 24 defensive lineman in the nation by Rivals.com. He said Arkansas coach Bret Bielema plans to use him either at end or defensive tackle.
“Obviously, his expectations are for me to come in and be hard-working and keep my grades up; I’m a 4.0 student, so that’s one of the biggest things,” Dean said. “He really wants to see me work hard and stay focused and that’s probably about it.”
Falleur said Dean is the epitome of the kind of player Bielema is looking for as he enters his second season as coach of the Razorbacks.
“I think coach Bielema really wants kids that are going to do the right things, be in class and not be an embarrassment to their programs and I’m just excited and they’re getting a great young man,” Falleur said. “His best football is in front of him. He’s 6-foot-4, 255 (pounds) and he’ll be 275, 280 in no time, just a great motor and plays hard and just what you’re looking for.”
Dean is the third member of the 2015 recruiting class to sign a financial aid agreement. Charleston’s Ty Storey and an offensive lineman from Texas also plan to enroll in January.
“Daytrieon’s hard work and dedication is what we look for in future Razorbacks,” Bielema said in a news release. “We’re excited to welcome him to the Razorback family and have him join us next spring to maximize his potential.
“Daytrieon joins Ty Storey and Zach Rogers as the start of a very special 2015 signing class. He continues to display the core values of what our program is built upon academically, athletically and socially.”