Patrick Deans doesn't have to dream of what offense is like, imagining the rush of scoring a goal or finding a teammate on a pinpoint assist. It wasn't so long ago, in middle school, that he was still playing midfield, and when he made Lambert's varsity team as a freshman, it was as a defensive midfielder.
But the Longhorns had plans for Deans that would turn him into the best in the state at his position, and maybe the best player overall. Between his freshman and sophomore years, he picked up the long stick given to close defenders and worked with Lambert assistant coach Rick Lewis to learn the position. It was a path similar to what happened with former Longhorns star Jaryd Jean-Felix, the 2017 All-County Player of the Year who's now at Rutgers.
"I think it's a great position," Deans said. "I get the long stick, get to hit people, get to be really physical, which I enjoy. I can still score – it doesn't happen very often, but I don't feel like I need to be playing offense to get all hype and everything like that."
And Deans' defensive contributions were more important than ever this year. The Longhorns' face-off margin was closer to even in 2019, giving opposing offenses more possession and putting Deans and the rest of the defense to work more often. Lambert allowed 4.1 goals per game this year, by far the best among county teams and impressively close to the 3.6 per game margin 2018's juggernaut state championship squad allowed.
"I think we responded well to that task," Deans said. "Everybody was looking forward to it, being more involved in the game and more important and everything like that, so it was good for us."
Deans isn't doing as much lacrosse during the summer as some of his peers, as he's gearing up for his senior season with the Longhorns football team. He was a standout at both tight end and linebacker for Lambert, and he wants one opportunity to put on those pads before zeroing in on lacrosse in college.
Johns Hopkins, one of the most historically successful programs in the country, will be Deans' destination for college lacrosse, and it was last summer that he first emerged as a premier talent in the country.
“It all went pretty quick for me,” Deans said. “I was a little bit surprised, taken aback.”During a run of tournament games in North Carolina against teams from across the East Coast, Deans was matched up with two of the top offensive recruits in the country: Notre Dame commit Carter Parlette from Ponte Vedra (Fla.) and Duke commit Jake Caputo from Middle Creek (N.C.). He got film of himself defending both of those players, and that film was enough to get the attention of the staff at Johns Hopkins. Deans went up for a visit in April, and soon after he received an offer and committed.
That humility is visible in Deans’ on-field play as well. One thing he’s not is an avid trash-talker: He knows that his play can easily show what his mouth can’t.
“I’ll return it if I’m getting it, but I’m not going out of my way, trying to get under guys’ skin,” Deans said. “I’d rather just go do that with the way I play.”