February 20, 2009

Like father, like son

LOCUST GROVE - When you're the son of former successful major league baseball player, expectations are going to follow you around.

Such is the case with Delino DeShields, a rising senior at Woodward Academy.

If his name sounds familiar, it should. His father, Delino DeShields Sr. was a standout major leaguer for 12 seasons where he played for five teams - Montreal, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Baltimore and Chicago.

He wasn't exactly a slouch, either. The former infielder batted a career .268 with 1,548 hits and during his prime was one of the fastest players in baseball as his 463 career stolen bases would indicate.

Junior has some talent of his own.

Last year, young DeShields rushed 83 times for 803 yards and 12 touchdowns in just nine games for Woodward Academy. A 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, the running back currently has three offers from Stanford, Central Florida and Georgia Tech.

Having been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.45 seconds, DeShields has the kind of speed that college recruiters love to see.

However, according to the player, he may never actually see a collegiate football field. Baseball is his game. He's also very good, and almost a cinch to go somewhere in the first 10 rounds of the draft in June of 2010.

"My dad encouraged me to play football so I could have a backup plan for college," DeShields said in an exclusive interview with UGASports. "But right now, the plan for me is to see what happens in the draft then decide if I want to play college football or not."

DeShields, who said he has had little contact with Georgia, laughed that his football success actually caught his father by surprise.

"My dad has been pushing baseball from Day 1, and I did not play football until the sixth grade," he said. "But after he found out I was pretty good he encouraged me to keep doing it and told me I could do whatever I wanted. He's fine with whatever I do."

Although he was just 12 years old when he father played his last big league game, DeShields said he remembers his dad's career well.

"We'd go down to spring training during spring break and every now and then during the summer we would see him when he'd come home for an off-day," DeShields said. "He'd hang out for a little while and leave the next day."

As for his own career, DeShields admitted it's been a lot of pressure living under his father's shadow. But he said he also enjoys the challenge.

"I want to be better than he is and make a name for myself," he said. "Most people think since my dad is Delino DeShields that I've always had stuff handed to me. But that's not true. I've worked really hard. People think I was just born with talent. While it's true I was born with it, I've worked extremely hard to get better."

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