COCOA PRIDE: Former Cocoa Tigers Jamel Dean, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Square Off in NFC Divisional Playoff Game
By Space Coast Daily // January 17, 2021
Jamel Dean vs Chauncey Garnder-Johnson
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – Two former Cocoa Tigers, Jamel Dean and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, are set to battle one another Sunday night when the New Orleans Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kickoff is set for 6:40 p.m. ET on FOX.
The winner advances to the NFC Championship game against the Packers.
Inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2020, Dean and Gardner-Johnson have been key contributors on their team’s defenses this season.
For Jamel Dean, he has accounted for 51 total tackles and 1 interception on the 2020 season. The 6-foot-1 and 206-pound cornerback has helped the Buccaneers defense become one of the top defenses in yards allowed in the NFL this season.
One of his biggest moments came this season in Week 6 when he picked off Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and ran it back for his first NFL touchdown. Buccaneers went on to blowout the Packers 38-10.
PICK 6! Jamel Dean takes it to the house! #GoBucs
— NFL (@NFL) October 18, 2020
JAMEL DEAN PROFILE
2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame: Cocoa Tigers Football’s Jamel Dean’s Tenacity, Accomplishments Earn Him Induction into Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Jamel Dean was among former Cocoa High School head coach John Wilkinson’s best two-way players during his Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame career for the Tigers.
Playing on back-to-back 11-2 state playoff teams for coach Wilkinson, Dean was a two-time Florida first-team Class 4A all-state pick at Cocoa High, totaling 975 offensive yards, including 22 receptions and 15 touchdowns in 2014 to earn all-state honors as a receiver.
He also had 38 tackles, two pass breakups and one interception in 2013 and also had seven pass breakups as a senior and scored nine touchdowns as a junior.
In 2013, Dean was named Friday Night Locker Room – Space Coast Daily Player of the Game for Week 9 as he had 135 return yards (68-yard kickoff return for a TD and 67-yard punt return) and 45 yards receiving.
In 2014, Dean was selected as the Brevard County Player of the Year and the Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s District 12 MVP and was among the top prep cornerback prospects in the nation ranked No. 32 by 247Sports, No. 37 by Rivals and a Top 10 defensive back in the state of Florida.
Dean was a highly-recruited prospect despite knee injuries he suffered during his prep career. He spent a semester at Ohio State and was medically disqualified to play football by Ohio State due to his suffering multiple knee injuries in high school.
He sat out 2015 and transferred from Columbus to Auburn, which cleared him to play. Dean suffered yet another knee injury in the preseason 2016 camp, which sidelined him for the year.
Finally healthy in 2017, he started 11 of 14 games for the Auburn, collecting 43 stops, 2.5 for loss and eight pass breakups. He started 11 of 12 games played in 2018, recording 30 stops, two for loss, two interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Returning as a starter at cornerback during the 2018 season, Dean had 30 tackles and 11 pass breakups for the season – and earned SEC Academic Honor Roll and Academic Top Tiger honors, graduating with a weighted 3.8 GPA.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 206-pound Dean turned pro as a redshirt junior after amassing 19 career pass breakups and two picks as a two-year starter. He raised his NFL stock at the Combine with 98th-percentile SPARQ results, including 4.3-flat jets and a 41-inch vertical.
Dean was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 109 National Football League draft with the 94th overall pick.
Dean made his regular-season debut in Week 9 against the Seattle Seahawks he recorded six tackles and four pass deflections. In Week 10 against the Arizona Cardinals, he recorded four pass deflections and his first career interception.
In Week 12 against the Atlanta Falcons, Dean recorded five pass deflections and in Week 16 Dean had one tackle, one pass deflection, and an interception.
Dean finished his rookie season with 21 tackles, 17 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble and solidified himself as a rookie on the rise.
While finishing tied for second among all rookie cornerbacks in interceptions, Dean finished first in pass deflections among rookies with 17 and that number was also good for Top 5 in the NFL among all corners.
Dean joined his former Cocoa High teammates, tackle Jawaan Taylor of the Jacksonville Jaguars and cornerback Chauncey Gardner-Johnson of the New Orleans Saints, on the 22-man 2019 Pro Football Focus NFL All-Rookie Team.
He is the son of Yolanda Kimbrough and James Dean and has four brothers including Derrick Jr., James Jr., Jamaine and Jayden. He received his bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts from Auburn University in May 2018.
A wild first half continues!
Jamel Dean picks off Watson on the deep pass! #GoBucs
— NFL (@NFL) December 21, 2019
For Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, he is coming off as the leading tackler last week for the Saints in their 21-9 win over Chicago. The 2020 season has been full of storylines for Gardner-Johnson. He was the third-leading tackler (66) on a defense that ranks in the top 6 in the NFL for overall defense. Gardner-Johnson also made the national spotlight when the Saints took on the Chicago Bears in Week 7 after wide receiver Javon Wims suckered punch Chauncey that went viral over social media.
Absolutely no one:
Javon Wims: pic.twitter.com/x9ysum2ElV
— Barstool Chicago (@barstoolchicago) November 1, 2020
2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME: High Impact New Orleans Saints Player Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from Cocoa Tigers Football Recognized as Among Best Young Players in NFL.
CHAUNCEY GARDNER-JOHNSON PROFILE
Former Cocoa Tiger and Florida Gator Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has been a high impact player ever since beginning his career on the youth football fields of Brevard County, right up to his selection to the Pro Football Writers Association 2019 All-Rookie Team.
During his senior year at Cocoa High School, the 2015 Space Coast Daily – Friday Night Locker Room Prep Football Player of the Year helped guide the Tigers to a 10-3 record and a spot in the state semifinal game.
Playing in the Tigers defensive secondary, Gardner-Johnson shut down half the field against opposing high school quarterbacks, as he registered 31 solo tackles, 55 total tackles, four sacks and two interceptions in 2015.
Gardner-Johnson was also a force on offense for the then Tigers’ head coach John Wilkinson as he churned out 927 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns, and was frequently seen returning kickoffs for touchdowns.
He was listed as the 84th best high school prospect on ESPN’s Top 300 list, was ranked the No. 42 overall player in the country and No.4 ranked player in the state of Florida by the 247 Sports Recruiting Composite.
The much sought after Gardner-Johnson decided to take his considerable talents to the University of Florida to play for the Gators.
Always the impact player, Gardner-Johnson led the Gators with eight special teams tackles and totaled 32 tackles, three pass breakups, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and a half tackle-for-loss in his first season in Gainesville.
The 6-foot, 208-pound Gardner-Johnson appeared in every game during his three years at Florida and started 25 times in the Gators secondary.
As a true freshman at Florida, Gardner-Johnson appeared in all 13 games, making starts in the final 3 games of the season. During the 2017 Outback Bowl, Gardner-Johnson had 2 tackles and 2 interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, he was named the MVP of the Outback Bowl.
During his sophomore season at UF, Gardner-Johnson started in all 11 games, totaling 58 tackles, two interceptions, seven pass breakups, six tackles-for-loss, and one sack.
Before his junior season, Gardner-Johnson was moved to the Nickleback position and in November 2018, he announced that he would forgo his final year of eligibility and declare his eligibility for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Gardner-Johnson was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fourth round (105th overall) and then played in all 16 games during his rookie season, starting in seven at defensive back for the Saints.
He had 46 tackles, one interception, forced one fumble, four quarterback hits and defended 8 passes.
In a Week 13 game against the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving Day, Gardner-Johnson recorded his first career interception off a pass thrown by Matt Ryan in the 26–18 win.
In week 16 against the Tennessee Titans, Gardner-Johnson recorded 8 tackles and forced a fumble on wide receiver Kalif Raymond which he recovered during the 38–28 win.
For his outstanding play during the 2019 National Football League season, Gardner-Johnson was selected to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Team.
When he declared his availability for the 2019 NFL Draft, Gardner -Johnson remembered those here on the Space Coast that helped him achieve his goals.
Gardner-Johnson recognized his family and friends and thanked former Cocoa Tigers head coach John Wilkinson, his youth football coach Alex Goins and former NFL player and Cocoa Tiger James Folston for their support and encouragement.
DEAN VS GARDNER-JOHNSON
Regardless of the result on Sunday, both men have made the city of Cocoa proud and an inspiration for young athletes in the local area.
The winner of the Saints-Buccaneers game will face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Kickoff is set for 6:40 p.m. ET on FOX.
CLICK HERE FOR BREVARD COUNTY NEWS