SOMERSET, Texas — Somerset Junior High School eighth-grader Zadock Dinkelmann has yet to play a down of varsity football, but he already has a scholarship locked down with one of the country’s top college football programs.
Dinkelmann, a quarterback who is the nephew of former Heisman Trophy-winner Ty Detmer, made a nonbinding oral commitment to LSU on Friday, three days after Tigers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron offered him a scholarship.
Dinkelmann, 14, won’t be able to sign his national letter of intent until Feb. 7, 2018.
“It’s shocking that he would get an offer this early, but what a tremendous blessing,” said Zadock’s father, Johan Dinkelmann, athletic director of the Somerset ISD and an assistant football coach at the high school. “He’s always been a huge LSU fan.”
The son of Detmer’s sister, Dee, Zadock already is 6-foot-4 and weighs 210 pounds. He has gone 15-0-1 as the starting quarterback for the Somerset seventh and eighth-grade teams the past two seasons.
“I like LSU because they’re an SEC team and they make a run for the championship every year,” Dinkelmann said after school Monday. “They’re one of the best teams in the country. LSU is my favorite school. Why wouldn’t I want to commit there? It’s a great college, great football team. One of my dreams is to go play for them.”
While Dinkelmann gushed about LSU, he acknowledged that his commitment comes with a caveat.
“If they have the same coaching and the same playing style by the time I graduate, then it would be a dream of mine to go there,” Dickelmann said. “But if they change coaches and have a bad season or two, then it might be one of those things where I look at a different college.”
Cameron recruited Ty Detmer as Michigan assistant Dinkelmann was congratulated by Somerset junior high and high school students throughout the day Monday.
“A lot of high-fives,” he said. “My friends are going crazy.”
Dinkelmann never had spoken with LSU head coach Les Miles until the two talked by phone Monday.
“He’s a very energetic guy,” Dinkelmann said. “You can tell he has pride for what he does. He coaches and he loves it. He’s just like a player out there.”
Dinkelmann will play at Somerset High School for his grandfather, Sonny Detmer, the Bulldogs’ longtime head coach. Koy Detmer, Sonny’s other’s son, coaches Somerset’s quarterbacks, including his son, Koy Jr., who will be a senior next season.
Ty and Koy Detmer played at BYU and Colorado, respectively, and went on to NFL careers.
“Zadock is in great hands,” Johann Dinkelmann said. “Sonny is the one who taught Zadock to throw when he could barely walk. Koy, with his NFL experience, does a great job of working with quarterbacks. He’s taught Zadock how to make the reads and about footwork. You can’t find anyone better.”
Sonny Detmer coached both of his sons, Ty at Southwest and Koy at Mission, and also has coached such outstanding passers as Koy Jr., Jim Bob Taylor (Somerset), Lupe Rodriguez (Mission) and Stevie Joe Dorman (Somerset). Dorman is Zadock’s brother.
Cameron was an assistant coach at Michigan when he recruited Ty in the mid-1980s. In the end, Ty committed to BYU as a junior and signed with the Cougars in 1987.
“Coach Cameron said, ‘I missed out on Ty, but I’m not going to miss out on Zadock,’” Sonny Detmer said.
Zadock watched A&M-LSU game in Baton Rouge last year
Given his size and skill set, Dinkelmann may wind up being the best of the bench before he graduates from Somerset.
“Pretty much the sky’s the limit for Zadock,” Sonny Detmer said. “Zadock is 6-4 and 210, and plays different sports and is good at them. He’s a good athlete. These days, kids start going to camp at such an early age that colleges get a line on them very early. Recruiting has changed a lot.
“These college coaches are still size-conscious on a lot of things. If you’ve got a big kid who’s got a good throwing motion and understands offenses, and can run a passing offense and understands what he’s doing, that’s pretty much it.”
Johan Dinkelmann, who played college football at Cincinnati, said his son started drawing attention from LSU after attending football camps the past few years.
“A couple of these camps, you turn in film and stuff like that, and I guess it made its way into Cam’s hands,” Dinkelmann said.
Cameron is the Tigers’ offensive coordinator and coaches the team’s quarterbacks.
LSU invited Zadock to the Tigers’ home game against Texas A&M last fall, and he went to Baton Rouge with his paternal grandfather, Johan Dinkelmann.
“Obviously, with me coaching, I couldn’t go,” Johan said. “But my dad, who a huge LSU fan, went with him and they had a great time.”
Zadock also competes in track and basketball
With Koy Jr. back for his senior season, Zadock will play on the Somerset freshman team in 2014. Koy was one of the most prolific passers in the state last season.
“Zadock will quarterback the freshman team and be a ballboy on Friday nights,” Johan Dinkelmann said with a chuckle.
Koy Detmer Sr. expressed confidence Zadock will improve steadily before he goes to college.
“Zadock is an outstanding talent,” Detmer said. “He’s got the tools and all those things—height, weight, arm strength—you look for in a quarterback. But beyond that, the kid is an outstanding player. Everybody can look on paper and see that, but what a lot of people don’t see is that he’s a student of the game.
“His football IQ is very high. He just has a great head on his shoulder about sports and about competing, and understanding the strategies. That, combined with this body and the frame he has, makes him an outstanding player. A lot can happen between now and then, but if he stays on the same track and LSU stays on the same track, what a deal for both sides.”
Dinkelmann is also a hurdler on his school’s track team and is an outstanding point guard for the eighth-grade basketball team.
“He’s not bad in that sport, either,” his father said, referring to basketball. “He had a two-handed dunk as an eighth-grader this year.”