Dell pushes for more ex­po­sure, earns Hous­ton schol­ar­ship

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND -

COMMENTARY

He never played for the in­fa­mous Ja­son Brown, the foul­mouthed coach from South Cen­tral Los An­ge­les. Brown was re­moved from the job dur­ing Dell’s first se­mes­ter there last spring af­ter he was charged with black­mail and iden­tity theft. Dell, how­ever he said some of the other coaches were just as tough.

“At the prac­tices, like how they talk to you and all that … that’s the truth right there. But as an ath­lete you gotta learn to take that and learn from it, “Dell said.

He was barely re­cruited out of high school and de­spite plenty of suc­cess at Main­land, he wound up with very few op­tions for schol­ar­ships to play foot­ball in col­lege. Once he ended up at In­de­pen­dence, he was fo­cused on get­ting out quickly.

“At first, I ain’t gonna lie, and I know [ ju­nior col­lege] is like cut-throat, ev­ery man for them­selves, and I was like, ‘OK, I gotta get ev­ery­thing straight. I gotta get my­self out of here,’” Dell said. “But af­ter I started hang­ing out with some of them boys, I re­al­ized [they were] try­ing to win. … So it’s like they were try­ing to ac­com­plish some­thing and I gotta help these boys out. We gotta win. I love them boys.

“I was fix­ing to be selfish and worry about my­self. … They pulled me out of my selfish ways.”

In the process he fi­nally started to make a name for him­self. In 10 games this past sea­son, Dell led In­de­pen­dence with 52 re­cep­tions for 766 yards and eight touch­downs. Fi­nally, he was on the re­cruit­ing radar of sev­eral schools. Hous­ton of­fered a schol­ar­ship, as did USF, Akron and Cen­tral Michi­gan.

Had he stayed at Alabama A&M, none of it would have hap­pened. But it wasn’t easy leav­ing.

“At first it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion. My mom was like, ‘You al­ready got what you was work­ing for. You’re go­ing to school for free.’ That was a bless­ing for her,” Dell said. “But then we sat down and talked about me go­ing to juco and I told her I felt like it could be a step­ping stone for me to help get me where I want to go, which is the NFL. If I go to juco, I can get my name out there and go to a big­ger univer­sity.

“At first she didn’t want me to do it be­cause she thought it could ruin stuff. When De­cem­ber [2018] came around, I re­ally started to think about it. Then mom said she was go­ing to be be­hind me 100% what­ever I de­cided. I started pray­ing about it and pray­ing about it and I ended up leav­ing.”

He wasn’t sure the de­ci­sion was right when he ar­rived in Kansas.

“When I got there I was like, ‘Dang. I’m re­ally by my­self now,’ ” Dell said. “I didn’t have no­body, but a good three months later I started to get to know some of the guys and Richard Kamara was there. He played at Main­land with me. So we said we could get through it to­gether.”

He cer­tainly got through it. Now he’s on his way to the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence.

“I’m happy that I went juco. I stuck with my word. Went there and did the work and God took care of the rest,” Dell said. “Pray­ing is one of the big­gest fac­tors in my life and with­out God, I can’t do noth­ing. He’s the rea­son I’m here.

“I was taught that once you pray about some­thing, you don’t have to think about it any­more. God takes care of the rest.”

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