Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

October 30, 2012

Former Blazer Larry Dean on NFC Pro Bowl ballot

TIFTON — Folks throughout South Georgia know it is hard to see Larry Dean without a smile on his face.

Dean is getting to live out his dream of playing in the National Football League. But the 2012 football season is giving him more reasons to smile.

A former Tift County Blue Devil and Valdosta State Blazer football player, Dean’s Minnesota Vikings are one of the NFL’s surprise teams with a 5-3 record at this point in the season. On top of that, Dean is one of 16 players in the National Football Conference that is on the Pro Bowl ballot as a special teams player.

“It is definitely a big honor to be even brought up in the conversation (about the Pro Bowl),” said Dean. “It’s an honor to know the coaches and other players think that much about my ability.”

Dean leads the Vikings’ special teams in tackles with seven on the year. He also has been on the field for several big plays, including a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Percy Harvin and a 77-yard punt return by Marcus Sherels that also went for a touchdown. Those two plays happened Sept. 30 in a game against Detroit. It was only the third time in the history of the Minnesota Vikings that the team had two such returns for touchdowns in the same game.

According to Dean, every player has contributed to the Vikings’ 2012 success.

“Since day one of training camp, we have been working hard. We have a family, and we have been showing that by playing for each other,” said Dean, who finished his VSU career as the school’s all-time leader in tackles with 368, passing Atlanta Falcon great Jessie Tuggle for the honor.

“Last year was a down year for us, but we all knew if we came in, played hard, things would get better. We were only a play or two away in several games last season, and this year, we are getting some of those plays to go our way.”

Dean’s play has also been helped this year by the fact he got to take advantage of not only having played last season, but also having a full off-season with the team.

His 2011 rookie season saw Dean have to miss several off-season workouts due to the lockout before the season. In fact, Dean went straight from a special graduation ceremony just for him at Valdosta State to going to the Vikings preseason camp within hours.

“I am more familiar with my surroundings this year,” said Dean. “I am playing with a lot more confidence, because I know more about what I am expected to do.”

That new familiarity has helped become one of the best special teams players in the league.

He has earned the respect of his coaches, who were the ones that put his name in consideration for the Pro Bowl. That carries weight in his possible selection as coaches count for one-third of the Pro Bowl vote, along with fans and other players in the league.

Counting as a third of that vote, fans can play a big part in his selection. To vote for Dean, fans can simply go to http://www.nfl.com/probowl/ballot?module=HP11_content_stream_voting_probowl or http://www.vikings.com/team/pro-bowl-ballot.html. You can also vote as often as you choose.

“I am living out my dream, but I wake up every morning dream-chasing,” said Dean. “It’s a honor for me that so many people in Tifton and Valdosta are pulling for me to do well. I do my best to represent Tift County and Valdosta State to the best of my ability. It’s a blessing every day for me to say I am from South Georgia.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowndes_McPherson.jpg Milestones on tap for upcoming season

    Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
    Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
    As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Jimbo.jpg Back on top

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Petrino.jpg Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Braves_Marlins JUpton.jpg Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ant Smith.JPG Anthony Smith ready for new test in college

    Smith was a three-year starter as a Wildcat and quickly worked his way up as a leader on both the defense and the team as a whole.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Wildcats participate in national 7-on-7 tournament

    The Valdosta High Wildcats have been working extremely hard this summer to prepare for the football season. Summer workouts and a plethora of 7-on-7 tournaments and competitions have kept the Wildcats busy.

    July 20, 2014

Blazers Blog
More