TAHLEQUAH — Nagging injuries have hampered Johnny Deaton throughout his collegiate career. From a tender shoulder to a sore thumb, ailments have accompanied a substantial portion of Deaton’s years at both Oklahoma State and Northeastern State.
But with NSU set to open the season on Sept. 7 at Pittsburg State, Deaton says he’s feeling youthful and spry all over again.
“I’m pretty healthy right now,” said the 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback transfer from Oklahoma State. “Shoulder is fatigued just because we’ve been in preseason, but other than that I don’t have any injuries.”
Deaton — a graduate of Charles Page High School in Sand Springs and a Tahlequah native during his early childhood years — ended up at Northeastern State in large part because of an physical impairment. During his freshman campaign at Oklahoma State, Deaton injured the labrum in his throwing shoulder, sending him further down the depth chart until he transferred the following the summer.
All he’s done at NSU in two full seasons is set 11 school records — all coming during the RiverHawks’ 2011 season that ended in a trip to the Mineral Water Bowl. That year, Deaton shrugged off continuous thumb pain to pass for 2,520 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Now he is ready to embark on a season that he feels 100 percent going into.
“I feel probably the best I’ve felt since probably my freshman year,” Deaton said.
Originally, Deaton was slated to be a junior for the RiverHawks in 2013. However, the NCAA disagreed, and Deaton is now NSU’s senior leader on offense.
“The NCAA said there wasn’t sufficient information from OSU, so (NSU head coach Kenny Evans) told me that I’d be listed as a senior this year,” Deaton said. “He said there’s still a chance that (the NSU coaches) could meet with the NCAA after the season, but (Evans) said, ‘as of now, you are a senior.’