FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High quarterback Dean Hyams had as good a final season as one could have for his senior campaign with an unbeaten regular season, a playoff game win in front of a home stadium and a first quarter touchdown bomb combined with a second half flurry in the second playoff that eventually fell short.
So, Why, with records of 6-3, 11-3/7Aregion final, 6-4 and 10-1/7A region semifinal, not a big list of college football interest?
“I very excited about finally getting the scholarship (to NCAA Div. II Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, KY), but we didn’t know if I was going to have an opportunity to even play football anymore,” said Hyams. “I had one or two pretty good late offers, but they were not financially affordable.”
The rub on his lack of early interest, said Hyams in retrospect, despite a big senior season settled into one primary factor that many student-athletes sometimes don’t put enough emphasis on.
“Honestly, we knew why my offers went dry; I got the same score on my SATs three times in a row,” said Hyams. “The scores were okay and my lack of size was overlooked for my ability to move the ball downfield and keep my team winning. By the end of the season, I thought I would get an offer that I deserved. The test scores during the season then the Corona Virus thing shut everyone down.”
Hyams’ interest in choosing Kentucky Wesleyan, a 1-10 record in 2019, was more about the offensive style and the new coaching staff, including a second year head coach, former NFL and University of Kentucky wide receiver Craig Yeast. Yeast was named in December 2018 as the 17th head coach of the in 58 years. Yeast came to Kentucky Wesleyan after three years of NCAA Division III coaching at Franklin College in Indiana where he generated the most prolific offense in the nation for three seasons; 225 yards rushing and 333 yards passing in 2018, and an 8-2 won/lost record. Yeast’s previous season went 8-2 (564.5 offensive yards per game) and 8-2 in 2016 (486.9 yards per game).
Hyams perservered throught moments of discouragement with his lack of college interest, even contemplating a military route, but kept his eye on the eventual prize with help from the Fleming Island High football coaching staff.
Scott Hyams, though, was ecstatic about his son staying the course despite minor setbacks.
“I know he was disappointed that his season did not get a lot of interest; he was throwing great and using his guys smart,” said Scott Hyams. “I asked him if he was still wanting to play when the interest kind of slowed down and he said no. We even started to look at the military route. When the virus ended and the coaches called him to say they were going to move forward in generating interest again, he was optimistic.”
Hyams cited that his test-taking abilities were not optimum and said he was a bit surprised that one item limited his prospects.
“For athletes out there having a good junior season and thinking college might be in the mix as a senior, it is a big factor,” said Hyams, who still had a 3.0 grade point average for his four years; well above the 2.0 NCAA standards. “That’s what happened to me.”
Hyams also rebounded from the Coronavirus shutdown when the NCAA eliminated the test scores as a criteria because, with high schools shutdown, athletes could not retake the tests to improve their chances.
“Not all of the universities and colleges took away the test scores, but the athletes limited by that kind of got a second chance,” said Hyams. “I had a pretty good GPA and that’s where the NCAA went. Then, I got offers.”
Once Dean Hyams started getting more interest, Scott Hyams said his outlook changed and he finally smiled about the process.
“He realized that it was a business and his size wasn’t helping, but when he got the second chance, he really took to it,” said Scott Hyams. “Kentucky Wesleyan is a good fit for him and they have the curriculum he thinks he wants. I’m happy for him and think he is going to be able to quickly contribute to the team.”
Hyams noted that Fleming Island still has a handful of college football prospects soon to sign scholarships.