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Nakobe Dean is a monster.
Nakobe Dean is also a measured, soft-spoken, supremely intelligent individual who aspires to become a doctor or an engineer.
If you thought those two descriptions were mutually exclusive, well, you were mistaken.
Dean does it all—which is why he’s exploded up the prospect rankings of late, all the way to becoming a composite five-star prospect who ranks atop the state of Mississippi and as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country.
And, yet, even in describing his versatility in the above paragraph, we’re doing him a disservice. That Dean is an inside linebacker implies that he’s a run-stuffing gap-filler who lacks the athleticism to play in space—which couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is, Dean could just as easily become Jabrill Peppers as he could Bobby Wagner. He’s not a ‘tweener,’ he’s just good at literally everything—including pass coverage and advanced mathematics.
The former allows him the potential to play linebacker or safety at the next level. The latter may pave the way to a future in medicine for this straight-A student and son of a doctor.
“When I was small I always said I wanted to be a doctor,” said Dean. “I found a love for engineering later in high school because I just love math.”
He also loves to succeed and treats class like his day job—because, according to his mother, it is.
“My mom is my backbone,” said Dean. “She raised me and my siblings by herself. Single parent household. I still have a great relationship with my father, but I got to see how strong my mom is through all my years.
“She always told me, when we got to high school, we don’t have to get a job because our job is school. Go to school make good grades. That’s our job. That was big for me. I saw how important school was because she made it that way.”
On the field, Dean plays a combination of speed, strength and enthusiasm that is ultra rare.
He plays sideline to sideline, has the ability to disrupt the passing game like a born defensive back, but will just as often follow that up by shooting through the A-gap with a ferocity that looks, to the uninitiated, like he’s equipped with a turbo button.
But this isn’t Madden. This is real life. And, in real life, Dean is one of the most sought-after uncommitted players on earth. But, while those around him continue to lob commitments, Dean is genuinely undecided.
When reminded that everyone on the outside seems to be very much in the dark as to where he’s headed, Dean responds matter-of-factly, “Everybody on the inside is, too. I don’t have any idea.”
Education is important to Dean and he will tell you as much without hesitation. Among his myriad offers, programs like Stanford, Duke and Vanderbilt hope he will continue to lean farther in that direction. But, for a player like this, football still matters.
“Education is a big thing, but I do generally feel like, wherever I go, I’ll get a great education. It really comes down to how I feel, my well-being… What’s going to prepare me for life after football, but also give me chances to do what I want to do in the sport? That’s the big thing for me.”
No fewer than five schools seem to be in play for Dean, who had 147 tackles—including 25 for a loss—and nine sacks as a junior. He’s been on campus at Ole Miss twice in the past month. He “loves” Georgia. He’s planning official visits to LSU and Auburn. And, of course, there’s no counting out programs like Alabama and Florida State.
For now, though, Dean isn’t a Bulldog or a Tiger or a Seminole. He’s the leader of the Horn Lake (MS) Eagles, one of Mississippi’s best teams, and he has a few more accomplishments to notch in the present before he cements his future.
The next order of business? The grand stage provided by the Battle on the Border, which will pit Dean and Horn Lake against Oklahoma’s Booker T. Washington and another uncommitted five-star prospect, athlete Dax Hill.
Kickoff is slated for 11 AM CT on Saturday, the first of three games to be played at the Independence Bowl that day. All games will be streamed LIVE on FloFootball.com and the FloSports app.
It will be the first and only national broadcast of the season for the Eagles and Nakobe Dean is must-see TV, so you do the math—and if you get hung up on the equation, just raise your hand. Odds are good that Dean knows the answer.