News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Playing time eludes Dean
Walk-on from Decatur
back on Tide's scout team

By Josh Cooper 340-2460

When he calls home to talk to his parents about Alabama football, Trent Dean will never complain.

The former Decatur High standout and current Alabama defensive back has seen his role shift and move in several different shapes and directions during his Crimson Tide career.

A walk-on, Dean has been Alabama's scout team defensive back, special teams player, option quarterback, regular quarterback and depth-chart quarterback for last year's Independence Bowl.

"This has been a humbling experience for him. He has grown and matured a lot," said Trent's mother, Jan Dean. "These are character-building experiences and to Trent's credit, if he complains, he does not do it to us."

Trent finished a successful high school career in 2003, winning The Decatur Daily's Class 4A-6A player of the year award.

Alabama's former defensive backs coach Chris Ball told Dean that he could walk-on at Alabama for the 2004 season.

For a walk-on, the career path starts out on scout team, which simulates that week's opponent.

Then as you gain more experience and get a better grasp of the coach's system, you might be given an opportunity to move up to special teams. The best-case scenario would be like former walk-on Darren Mustin, who is Alabama's starting inside linebacker this season.

Before the Crimson Tide's Oct. 29, 2005, game against Utah State, Alabama's pocket-passing scout-team quarterback was doing a less than admirable job running the option, according to Dean. So then defensive coordinator Joe Kines asked who could be the scout team's option quarterback.

Dean, then playing on defense, was a likely candidate since he ran the option at Decatur. From that point on, Dean was Alabama's scout-team quarterback for the 2005 season.

The same sort of situation occurred during the 2006 season, though Dean cannot recall when.

"I started out on scout-team defense, then we had a game where we had a mobile quarterback," Dean said. "So they needed somebody to come over, and they pulled me back over the rest of the season again."

The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Dean played one snap in Alabama's 38-3 win over Florida International in 2006.

He also made his way up to being on the depth chart as a quarterback for Alabama's 2006 Independence Bowl squad. Marc Guillon had left the team in October and then-backup Jimmy Barnes tore a knee ligament giving Dean a chance to play.

But something happened about a month before the Independence Bowl that changed Dean's typical walk-on progress.

Former coach Mike Shula was fired Nov. 26, meaning that Dean's path was about to get altered.

With new coach Nick Saban coming in with a different staff, Dean didn't know what his role would be for 2007. One day during the summer, he called a friend of his to ask when to report to preseason practice. The friend called back to inform Dean that the unnamed player — Dean did not want to say his identity — had been cut from the team.

Dean frantically called director of football operations Todd Alles who told Dean that he was to report at the start of classes on the expanded roster, which was good but also bad news for Dean.

"It was disappointing. When you go through camp, that puts you on the depth chart," Dean said. "If you don't make camp, there is not a good chance that you are going to play. People who come in at the beginning of school are going to be scout team."

Set to graduate at the end of this semester with a degree in marketing, Dean looks at his three-plus seasons of playing Crimson Tide football as a learning experience.

With his former coaches gone, Dean is back to square one, playing on defense and special teams on the scout teams. But maybe one day the Tide will be winning by enough points so Dean can make an appearance on the Bryant-Denny Stadium sod.

"I think being humble and working hard are always going to pay off in the long run," Dean said. "Right now, I'm not going to see it in playing time, but I am going to see it as far as my career and a family."

Georgia at Alabama

6:45 p.m.

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