O–MEGA SIZED DREAM
DALLAS — Neketta Dean is no meteorologist, mind you.
But given what is about to take place in prime time Thursday night, Dean earlier this week provided a preview of her own unique forecast, of sorts.
“(There will) be tears and maybe even some praise dancing going on, thinking this is really happening,” Dean told Making Headline News. “Thankful to God for the moment, but slick hoping he gets selected to a weather friendly state and, for me, that’s warm weather.”
For what it’s worth, even a mostly frigid climate likely won’t put a damper on the euphoria that figures to unfold throughout Dean’s household in the coming days.
That’s because Dean’s middle child, Nakobe Dean, will finally witness his long-awaited dream become a reality when the former University of Georgia All-American is selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. CST from Las Vegas with the opening round.
BETWEEN THE HEDGES
The three-day draft — which airs on ABC, and ESPN, and the NFL Network — continues Friday with Rounds 2-3 and culminates Saturday with Rounds 4-7.
According to a mock draft unveiled Tuesday by The Sporting News, Nakobe Dean is projected to be chosen with the 18th overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans), this after the 6-foot, 225-pound inside linebacker enjoyed a remarkable collegiate campaign that ended with Georgia winning its first national title since 1980.
Having declared for the NFL Draft just four days after the No. 3 Georgia avenged its SEC Championship loss to defending national champion and then-top-ranked Alabama, Nakobe Dean raised his stock substantially after a banner junior year that resulted in a slew of accolades for the former Horn Lake (Miss.) High star.
The catalyst of a Bulldogs defensive unit that finished second nationally in total defense behind Wisconsin, Nakobe Dean was named the 2021 Butkus Award Winner after recording career highs in four statistical categories: tackles for losses against four teams (including versus Michigan in the national semifinal), sacks (two versus Clemson), five quarterback pressures against Michigan, and interceptions against Auburn and Florida.
For his courageous efforts, Dean was named a First-Team All-American by The Associated Press, was named to the AP and Coaches’ All-SEC First Teams, SEC Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus, and a semifinalist for the 2021 Chuck Bednarik Award given to the nation’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy given annually to college football’s Defensive Player of The Year, Dean was named to the Mid-Season All-America Team by The Sporting News and was named to the preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player.
A first-round prospect who has drawn comparisons to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen primarily because of his decisiveness, instincts, and lateral quickness, Dean emerged as one of the premiere linebackers in this year’s NFL Draft, this after a masterful — and memorable — final season display for perennial power Georgia.
Suitably known as “Nickey Dee,” Neketta Dean has always sensed that Nakobe Dean would ultimately use football as an outlet to earn an education — and, of course, now a favorable living — considering her son and the hardware she had given him as a child were virtually inseparable.
“His first football was (given to him) when he was maybe six months old (while taking picture),” Neketta Dean, a mother of three, recalls. “For him, a football was like Linus’ blanket (in the Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown). “He took a ball everywhere…bathtub, car rides, bed, everywhere. And it didn’t matter what kind of ball it was, as long as it was a ball.”
Fortunately for Nakobe Dean, he would ultimately develop an unfathomable love interest for football, a seemingly perpetual, close-knit bond that undoubtedly will create yet another lasting, tear-jerking memory — much like the one that played out in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium on the night of January 10.
Confetti and all.
“My favorite team has always been the (New England) Patriots,” Neketta Dean said. “This was until my son started college ball. I then denounced all favorite teams and declared that my favorite team will be wherever my son lands.”
Frigid climate or not.
Andre Johnson is the award-winning Founder and Publisher for Making Headline News. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism and a former staff reporter of sports for the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send email to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist or Instagram at @makingheadlinenews.
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