Auburn Cornerback is Proof You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down
photo: Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics
It was the third quarter of the Texas A&M game when it happened. The Auburn defender was chasing down Aggie quarterback Kyler Murray when he took a brutal blindside hit from an Aggie wide receiver that snapped his head back and drove him into the ground, dislocating his shoulder and bending his leg back in an unnatural aberrant position.
The Auburn cornerback knew something bad was wrong. “I felt my legs go numb. I couldn’t feel nothing.” The vicious hit left him with a dislocated left shoulder and a dislocated right knee, including tearing all three ligaments in the knee.
Now just before the Tigers entered the ‘Amen Corner’ part of their 2015 schedule against Georgia and Alabama, Auburn’s starting nickel back Jeremiah Dinson’s season was over. It was an emotional blow that left the freshman devastated. He had to have two surgeries to repair the damage.
Dinson came to Auburn from Miami’s American High where he played on a state championship team. He was ranked among the top 100 cornerback prospects by 247 Sports and ESPN. He was a highly sought recruit who chose Auburn over Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, and 18 other D-1 schools. Despite the blow, he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.
After surgery, Jeremiah went to work rehabbing his shoulder and knee. It takes a long time to come back from those types of serious injuries, and he wasn’t ready to return to the field in 2016 despite lifting weights and rehabbing five hours a day.
The road back from such serious football injuries can be very disheartening. In fact many choose to end their careers. Not being able to be with the team coupled with grueling long months in the weight room quite often prove too much to handle. The freshman was just starting to come into his own when the hit occurred.
The initial ruling was targeting, then overturned, and then again ruled illegal after the game. The blocker never reached out to Dinson in the days, weeks, and months after the game. For his part, Dinson said he has forgiven him and moved on.
Yet there were times over the last 21 months that Jeremiah didn’t know if he would ever play in a football game again. But he had two things in his favor for making it back. One is a positive attitude, proving the old adage, “You can’t keep a good man down.” Every coach he has had since high school has testified both to his work ethic and to his great attitude.
His second motivation has been the support of his teammates. In particular, his childhood friend Carlton Davis and former player Josh Holsey (who had to recover from a knee injury himself). Both men encouraged and mentored him through the recovery process. Now Jeremiah says he feels stronger than ever.
He has been having a good fall camp, impressing defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and secondary coach Greg Brown. “He’s got a tremendous skill set,” said Steele. “I can’t even tell he’s ever been hurt. Now he can run, and he can run fast. He’s really, really smart.” Steele singled out the cornerback for an interception in the Tigers’ first scrimmage, awarding him the DC’s “Turnover Award” of the day.
He has made significant progress since spring and appears to be poised to regain his position at nickel back. However Coach Steele said he’s very versatile and could play corner or help shore up depth at the thin safety position.
Versatility is what Steele will need on his unit this coming season. And when the Tigers tee it up against Georgia Southern in Jordan-Hare September 2, Jeremiah Dinson will be there, because … you can’t keep a good man down.