We have a good community behind him and we have dedicated our season to him. He’s just like thumbs up and nods and he’s been a part of it. —Zadock Dinkelmann, on his father, Johan
Zadock Dinkelmann sits beside his father’s bed. His dad gives Zadock a thumbs up after a great Texas state football playoff win and he knows his father just knows.
The BYU quarterback commit from Somerset High School in San Antonio was fresh off a solid game, a winning performance in the opening round of the Texas 4A state playoffs this past week. On Friday, Dinkelmann’s 9-2 Eagles will face 8-3 China Springs at Bob Shelton Stadium for a second-round matchup.
This is the first season in Dinkelmann’s young life his father hasn’t been on the field watching him play. “But he knows what is happening and follows that and for that I am very thankful to God,” said the son in a conversation with me this past weekend.
Last spring, his father, Johan, suffered two strokes while at a track meet in Corpus Christi. He ended up hospitalized on life support unable to move or talk. Slowly, he has made progress, has some movement and can communicate. His eyes tell everyone he is there, understands, grasps what is going on and gives his full love and support.
But he can’t see his son play.
“We have a good community behind him and we have dedicated our season to him,” said Zadock. “He’s just like thumbs up and nods and he’s been a part of it.”
Last week, Somerset High’s administration allowed a one-time change of the jersey color for the Eagles, from black to salute, to what the school’s Twitter account said was “the valiant fight of Somerset ISD Athletic Director Johan Dinkelmann as he continues to rehab from a series of strokes suffered in April.”
Zadock says it wasn’t easy making the jersey change. He tweeted out, “Us players wanted these jerseys and were told no. My father even in the current state he resides in, fought for us to wear them. It's amazing how even now he continues to put his athletes first before anyone. I would be lucky just to be half the man my father is.”
“We’ve done really good this season, even with ups and downs,” said Dinkelmann. “China Springs will be really tough. They are one of the top ten teams in the state. I’m really proud of our guys.”
Dinkelmann’s older brother, now his coach, broke Ty Detmer’s San Antonio Area record for passing yards. His cousin, Koy Detmer Jr., threw for more than 80 touchdowns and his uncle Koy, Ty’s brother, remains one of the top passers in Texas.
Is there pressure with all these family members setting such a high standard with his brother and grandfather Sonny Detmer coaching him now at Somerset?
“Somewhat, but the main thing is to go out and play and do the best I can. They are all coaching me and they want me to succeed.”
His mother, Dee, a schoolteacher, is the sister of BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer. He remains committed to sign with the Cougars in February.
Zadock, who is listed as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in Texas behind Alan Bowman of Grapevine by Lone-Star Prospects, made national news as a 14-year-old eighth-grader when he committed to then LSU coach Les Miles. He decommitted when LSU fired Miles and gave his pledge to sign with BYU last February.
Zadock said he’s been watching BYU football games and recognizes many of the play calls and formations. “A lot of what they do is what I’ve been doing here. Some of their touchdowns have been calls we make and I understand what they’re trying to do.”
He said when he visited Provo this fall and watched a game, he was impressed with the attitude BYU’s players displayed in fighting through adversity. “I can’t wait to get in that offense and play in something I’m familiar with. What really touched me is how hard they kept fighting, even in losses. I liked the players and the coaches. They were all very friendly.”
He also spent some time in the summer in Provo, staying at his uncle’s house in Mapleton and went hiking with his cousins, Ty’s daughters and Koy Junior.
Zadock plans on playing basketball immediately after this season ends.
At BYU, he will join a host of QBs vying for playing time including current starter Joe Critchlow, the mending Beau Hoge and Tanner Mangum, Kody Wilstead and returning LDS Church missionary Jaren Hall.
“I like to keep up with Zadock and Somerset,” said his cousin, BYU backup QB Koy. “I don’t want to be a has been or anything but with Zadock there, I keep in touch and with his father, my uncle, who is battling hard. A lot of those guys were freshmen when I was a senior.”
Koy said winning the district title at Somerset is a very big deal for that school. “They were dominant. Zadock is a player, he is a player right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if they win the regional final. He’s a great leader and competitor. He got 4A player of the week in Texas after one of his games.”
Koy said at Somerset, the numbers don’t always tell the story of how players are doing. “I remember one game I was three of six for 100 yards or something like that. It didn’t look that good but we ran it for 300. What matters is the win. He’s a player and they’ve been winning, which shows how good he is. He runs more than I did. He looks slow but he’s got those long legs and he covers a lot of ground quick. He is a super athlete and star athlete back home. He runs track and pitches in baseball.”
Back when Zadock committed to LSU, it was a huge deal in San Antonio because he was one of the youngest ever in this country to do so.
Said Koy: “But he injured his foot his sophomore year and missed that season and it set him back. But it did get his name out there. It really opened peoples’ eyes to him.”
The Johan struggles have cemented the Somerset community for half a year. There have been prayer vigils, messages on signs in front of schools and churches, a team that is focused on delivering for a respected and beloved leader of their kids.
And then there’s Zadock, his son.
He’s grateful for every moment that’s coming his way.
Friday is one more chance to make his gratitude and blessings pile even higher.