Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Humble RB Dean impresses off field
Arkansas football helmets sit atop storage bins during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Fayetteville.
University of Arkansas running back target Janari Dean is a standout on the field, but a few minutes of talking to him shows he stands out off the field as well.
Dean, 6-0, 175 pounds, of Batesville (Miss.) South Panola has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Indiana, Louisiana Tech and others.
Janari Dean highlights
Zach Broadway -- the South Panola strength, conditioning and linebackers coach -- said Dean, who carries a 3.9 grade-point average in the classroom, excels in all areas.
"Janari is special," Broadway said. "He's just a great kid overall. He works just as hard in the classroom as he does the weight room. He's a leader on and off the field."
In a day where boasting about oneself is the norm, trying to get Dean to say anything about himself is a chore.
"It's really nice to see a kid with so much athletic ability be so humble at the same time," Broadway said.
Dean's father, James, also was a highly recruited running back in high school with offers from Arkansas, Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee and others. Multiple generations of the Dean family have taken inspiration from Proverbs 22:6 while raising their families: "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
"I have to credit my mom and dad because I saw them do it the right way, so I try to do it the right way so my kids see me do it the right way, so they'll want to do it the right way," James Dean said.
Setting a good example for Janari and his other two sons, Javon and James, is important to the elder Dean.
"I try to teach him to carry himself the way I would carry myself, and you look long term, not short term," James Dean said. "Not being a follower and trying to do what everyone else does. We have conversations once a week about just doing the right thing and being where you're suppose to be and carrying yourself a certain way and not posting stuff in Instagram, Facebook and Twitter that you can't get back."
Dean, who rushed 296 times for 2,030 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior, wasn't able to make it to Fayetteville for Saturday's Red-White spring game. He's now targeting May 3-5 or the fall for a visit.
Broadway said the scholarship offers, notoriety and pressure that come with the recruiting process hasn't changed Janari.
"A lot of people don't understand how tough the recruiting process can be," said Broadway, a Conway native. "He's taken everything in stride though. I can honestly say he's the exact same well-mannered and humble kid who I met when I moved here his ninth-grade year."
When Janari isn't playing sports, he's usually fishing, hunting, riding horses or working with Tennessee walking horses.
"He rides horses darn near every day," James Dean said. "He's just a good country boy just staying out of the way."
Being a high achiever in the classroom was stressed to Janari at an early age. A school's academics and support system will play a role in his college decision.
"If you put yourself in a position as far as academics, you'll be able to do whatever you want," James Dean said. "One day football is going to leave you and you have to have something to fall back on. If you put yourself in position you'll be able to find a job in whatever field you want to be in and do whatever you want to do."
Email Richard Davenport at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sports on 04/07/2019
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.