Miss. star gave up football for baseball, changed his mind and returned as an elite defensive end

Miss. star gave up football for baseball, changed his mind and returned as an elite defensive end

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Miss. star gave up football for baseball, changed his mind and returned as an elite defensive end

All it took was a year for Deuntra Hyman to develop into an elite defensive end and a member of the 2017 The Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen.

“He hadn’t played in a while,” Meridian (Miss.) coach Calvin Hampton said. “He took some time off and came to me expressing interest in playing again. I could see from his body structure he had the chance to put some weight on and really become something special. He went to work and his body just transformed.”

Within that year, however, were days spent in the gym, hours of weight lifting and a commitment to becoming the best in the 2018 class — despite giving up football as a kid and only coming back in time for his junior season. Hyman transformed his body into what coaches describe as that of a 6-foot-3, 225-pound Greek god — one with a natural pass-rushing ability.

Motivated by what he said were people telling him “you can’t be that player” or “you won’t ever be that elite defensive end,” Hyman from day 1 set out to prove people wrong. After finishing his junior season with 63 total tackles, 13 for loss and leading the junior class with 19 sacks, he accomplished just that.

Hyman’s career in sports started on the baseball diamond when he was just a young kid. He says when he found his way to football all bets were off — that was the field he belonged on. He credited his father for pushing him and supported him, always telling him he could be that top-tier player.

Hampton said that from the start, Hyman had goals of becoming a Division I-caliber player, a Dandy Dozen and a player in the conversation as one of the best. It was a dream that, had he not come back to the game for his junior season, would never have come to fruition.

“I had the dedication to go hard,” Hyman said. “My coaches developed me. Coach (Demetrius) Hill was on me, and me already having the motivation, I knew in the long run it was gonna work out.”

Hyman has become a three-star prospect according to 247Sports and Scout.com and is committed to Ole Miss, along with having 15 other scholarship offers from Division I programs.

There are a lot of factors that make Hyman the player he is and ultimately earned him the honor of being named to the 2017 Dandy Dozen class. His speed off the ball, his explosive style of play and his pass rushing ability separate him from others at his position.

The potential to become that player was always there. Hyman just needed the right coaches to cultivate it.

“I saw the potential for him to become this player at practice,” Hampton said. “When he was with his individual coach he was getting drilled hard. He hit his breaking point and went up. That’s when we started to see he could be a Division I, Dandy Dozen guy.”

Now heading into his senior season and just his second year playing on a varsity program, Hyman’s goals for himself is to push even further. He’s proven to everyone he is a name to know. This year, it’s about doing more.

“We already proved everyone wrong last year,” Hyman said. “This year we’re trying to bring that gold ball (state championship) back to Meridian.”

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