February 15, 2010

DeJean defies expectations, receives praise

With Tulane's 2010 recruiting class in the books, The Wave Report takes some time to discuss the newest additions with the people who know them best - their coaches.

In this edition, we talk with St. Thomas More HS defensive backs coach Desmond Beckwith, who discusses the talents of three-star safety Cameron DeJean.

DeJean, a 6-foot-3, 200 pounder from Lafayette, La. is expected to contribute immediately at either safety or outside linebacker and is considered a cornerstone of the class.

The Wave Report: We have seen some strong game film on Cameron DeJean, but as someone who has coached him intimately throughout his high school career, can you talk about what kind of player he is?

Desmond Beckwith: Cameron is one of those guys who a bit of a rangy, taller guy. He kind of developed over time and really became a smart player through the years.

It's a great combination he has with his size, speed and smarts. That's what kind of sets him apart and makes him such a great find for Tulane. There are a lot of guys that have some kind of combination of those things but it's hard to find somebody with all three of them. I think it's a huge asset for him.

I have coached him all through high school and seen him develop from kind of a rangy, goofy kid into a top and tough player. It's been great to see.

This year, he played hurt too. He had shoulder surgery and never really got back all the way, so he really had to show his tougher side. He was never 100 percent all year and went through the pain and really battled, and never slowed down because of it. I was real proud of him the way he did all of that and still performed at such a high level.

TWR: Would you consider him more of a run stopping specialist, or someone who does better when he is deep in coverage? Where do you think he will find a niche at the college game, or is he truly a balanced defensive back?

DB: He has real good range in terms of getting back and playing the ball. There's never really been a problem there because he has such good size and speed.

But I think the thing that's stood out is his ability to tackle. He is a very sure tackler. He doesn't get down into the box a whole lot, as a free safety, but he always brought any runner to the ground who got near him. That was a big thing for us, because a guy would break through and we could always count on him to make a tackle before it became a big play.

He may not deliver that huge hit, or get the highlight reel thing, but it was always a consistent tackle. That's what you like to see from a safety, because he's not afraid at all to use his body and of course he still has the range for everything else.

I really think Tulane got a huge steal by getting him because he had that injury and it kind of held him back. It was also his first year really starting because we had another player who played Cameron's position who went to Northwestern last year, so he was always either rotating or playing behind him.

When you look at all those factors and then you see what he can do at 100 percent, there's no doubt, they got a real steal.

TWR: You mention his toughness, by playing through that shoulder injury, is that something that lines up pretty well with his personality? What kind of person is he on and off the field?

DB: It's kind of crazy because he is really laid back and that's not at all the speed he plays at. How he acts, doesn't fit the style he plays.

He's not a really vocal guy, but at that position you have to have some leadership skills and he does. Even though he doesn't yell a lot or anything, he is a leader by the way he acts and the way he plays.

He also really understands what he's supposed be doing back there between checking offenses and calling plays. He can recognize what's about to come and makes the right switches at the right times.

I also really like it because he always kind of keeps everything even-keeled. He just doesn't get over-excited, in either direction. If something good happens, then great, but he's not going to go crazy about it. At the same time, if something bad happens, that's no big deal either, just move on to the next play.

We have had some players who are vocal and get crazy and that's okay for them, but Cameron is always real laid back and he plays really hard and he keeps everything moving forward.

That's just the type of kid he is. He is a fierce competitor and plays with a certain fire, but he just doesn't talk about it much.

TWR: It must be pretty cool for you, considering DeJean and your cousin, Wendell Beckwith (defensive end from Clinton HS) are both headed to Tulane next year.

DB: Yeah, it was really cool. They went on their recruiting trip together to New Orleans and Wendell was kind of juggling where he wanted to go at that time. I think it was good for him, because he realized it was a chance to go to a great school that's close to home and he picked Tulane.

I want to say that was important to Cameron too and I think he talked with him a little about it and how great Tulane is, so it looks like it's all going to work out well.

TWR: So I guess you're probably turning into a pretty big Green Wave fan by next fall.

DB: Oh, absolutely. I will be following them and keeping up with everything and cheering for their success for sure.

Even though it's close, I never knew too many people who went there, so I never really paid much attention. But now I have a couple of big reasons to keep a close eye on them and make a trip or two to the Superdome in the fall.

It should be fun.

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