Hometown: Virginia Beach, Va
High School: Green Run HS
David Dean was rated a 4-star DT by ESPN and the #19 DT in the nation. Rivals rated him 3-stars and the 30 DT, whereas Scout rated him 3-star and #69 in the nation. Solid rankings from all services. He was recruited by most of the ACC as well as Big East schools after starting for 4 years in high school.
Dean came in with good size, but still needed to add a bit more bulk. But what really struck scouts about Dean was his motor and his intensity. Virginia fans have long seen DLs who made up for lack of size with a strong motor. Guys like Andrew Hoffman, Nick Jenkins and Brennan Schmidt. The difference is that most of those guys played in a 3-4 defense, where the lack of size was a bigger problem. In a 4-3 defense, the DTs are often smaller and quicker.
Dean, for one, is very quick. He's quick off the ball, able to get into an OL quickly and gain the upper hand. He's also quick laterally and able to move off a block and make a play away from him. Last year, Dean saw time in 11 games, but compiled only 2 tackles. One of those tackles was a sack.
Last year, the Hoos had a number of solid DTs ahead of Dean. This included the since departed Will Hill as well as Chris Brathwaite who is currently ineligible to play. The only remaining DTs are Brent Urban and Justin Renfrow. While both of those guys are bigger and more experienced than Dean, neither of them possess the quickness and burst that he has. Dean is listed as a starter at one DT spot opposite Urban, and with his quickness has the potential to have a real impact this year.
During this year's spring game Dean (and Urban) was constantly in the face of the QB, leading the defense to 14 "sacks". While some of that can be attributed to a struggling OL, Dean looked impressive. Dean might struggle against bigger interior OLs on running plays directed at him. He simply doesn't have the bulk to hold off a drive-blocking 320 pound OG. But Dean will be a good pass rusher and has the quickness to beat his man off the snap and get into the backfield to blow up a play.
Just a sophomore, Dean has 3 years remaining and will grow into his body. Ideally speaking, Dean would be backing up Brathwaite, who broke out as a star on the DL last year. Dean looked solid in limited playing time. But with Brathwaite suspended, Dean is forced into the starting role. He has a similar body to Brathwaite, and could have a similar breakout sophomore season. The playing experience should help him develop his game, so if Brathwaite returns, they could form a dynamic DT duo.