There was never any question about the fit for his talent. It was always about whether Jean Delance could see himself within the culture of a school. As soon as a racist fraternity video hit the Internet from a longstanding Oklahoma social house, it became clear that the Sooners weren’t for him.
That decision to decommit from Oklahoma catapulted dozens of headlines and shot the offensive tackle into the national spotlight, all for reasons he would rather have avoided. Now he’s focused on helping his team, improving his technique and physicality and accepting the plaudits that come, chief among them his selection as an Under Armour All-American on the Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“This is a blessing, and I’m very humbled. I’m definitely excited to be an Under Amour All-American.” Delance told USA TODAY High School Sports after receiving his Under Armour jersey at North Mesquite High in Texas. “It means a lot. It gives my grandma great hopes; she’s a cancer patient going through chemo. And it gives my teammates a little bit of aspiration to be better than me.
“My Grandma is about closest relationship to me next to my Mom. She’s one of the closest people in my life, so this is important to be able to give her some hope.”
None of this is to say that Delance would have done anything different last spring. He stands by his decision and, while he harbors no ill will toward Oklahoma, he knows that the entire experience has made him a better, more mature young man.
“I think this is a big stand for guys like me to express how I felt,” Delance said. “I think that helped me as a player to get my eyes in front of coaches I didn’t think I would ever talk to. And I think I handled the situation well.”
As with most talented teen football players, most of the focus on Delance revolves squarely around his recruitment. The Texas native is widely expected to choose among Texas, Texas A&M and Alabama, though he isn’t ruling out other schools, either. That could leave him open for plenty of love letters from fellow Under Armour All-Americans in Orlando.
He’s open to that, insisting that he and many of his friends at the game — Dontavious Jackson, Dwayne Haskins and Chris Owens among them — will be sure to spend time talking about their decisions and the interaction they’ve had with coaches at different schools.
Still, at the end of the day, Delance is going to make up his own mind. He said that he already has a sense of what he wants to do, and he plans to announce his college choice in December or perhaps at the Under Armour game itself.
“The relationships I have with all the coaches and the players at the schools, those are a big factor,” Delance said. “I know in my heart that I know for sure I know what I want to do but when I get down there I’ll be ready to make my decision.”
There should be little doubt that Delance will follow through on that pledge. After all, he’s never been afraid to make his own decisions and speak his mind.