A healthy Jamel Dean could find himself competing for one of the open starting spots in Auburn’s secondary this fall.
Ohio State ruled Dean medically ineligible to play as an early enrollee last year, but his past knee injuries including a torn ACL weren’t a problem when he arrived on the plains.
“He’s athletic,” Auburn defensive back Jonathan Jones said leading up to the Birmingham Bowl. “He’s learning to control his body and stuff like that, getting stronger.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder has the size to play safety, but Jones can see Auburn’s new defensive staff considering Dean as his replacement.
“I definitely think he can play corner,” Jones said.
Dean was a 4-star recruit coming out of Cocoa High School in Florida. A two-way standout in high school, Dean was the 2014 Brevard County Player of the Year. He picked the Buckeyes over offers from Florida, Miami and Mississippi State.
Depth was an issue in the secondary for Auburn this past season, but new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele might not have that problem.
“They're going to have some great competition at the position next year,” Blake Countess said.
Auburn had a number of injuries in the fall with Joshua Holsey and Jeremiah Dinson both suffering season-ending injuries. T.J. Davis spent the season recovering from a torn ACL.
All three players could be back for fall camp with Holsey seeking a medical redshirt.
The Tigers also bring back starters Carlton Davis and Rudy Ford along with a number of other experienced players including Tray Matthews, Tim Irvin and Stephen Roberts.
Countess had high praise for freshman defensive back Javaris Davis, but doesn’t think fans should count out Dean either.
“Jamel Dean is a big, physical guy,” Blake Countess said. “He can run really well. He's a good one too.”