Derek Carr wasn’t fully paying attention to who he was throwing to during one drill, simply knowing he was supposed to hit his receivers who were striding downfield with a deepball pass.
But upon launching one 30-yard pass into the endzone and seeing a set of long arms reach up to make the catch, Carr realized one of his throws had gone to Victor Dean.
Victor Dean, one of Fresno State’s favorite redzone targets, is back from a broken femur.
“I couldn’t believe that,” Carr said. “I saw him running a route. It blows my mind the things they can do now. He breaks his femur and he’s back in spring football. To be able to see that gives me a lot of comfort. I know he’s excited.”
Dean, who suffered the broken femur bone on Nov. 3, is expected to be fully healed and maybe even in top form by the start fall camp starts in August. For now, Dean will sit out contact drills as a precaution during spring practices.
But the fact that Dean already was running near full speed and participating in noncontact drills Monday was a strong sign that he should be able to build on his performance last season.
The 6-foot-6 Dean was just finally getting more involved in the gameplan, even featured on some plays and considered the primary target, around the midpoint of last season.
He caught 30 passes for 389 yards and two touchdowns.
But then Dean went down during Fresno State’s 45-10 win against Hawaii during the Bulldogs’ third-to-last regular season game, going up to catch a pass in the endzone but instead breaking his femur after an awkward landing.
The injury caused Dean to lose much of the weight he initially gained last season. He lost 20 pounds and returned close to the weight he had as a true freshman at 205 pounds.
He’s currently at 208 pounds but would like to play at 225 pounds to provide more protection on is long body and help absorb hits.
“For the most part, I don’t think I surprised myself at all,” Dean said. “Obviously, you never really know when you’re going to come back from that type of thing. Once you start running, it gives you a lot of confidence to get back to where you were.
“There’s been a lot of support from a lot of people. That’s the main thing that pushed me this offseason to get back quickly. I’m just happy to be back. I feel pretty good.”
Dean had to have two incisions, one at his hip and the other on his knee, to help repair his femur. He said he still feels a little pain from time to time on his hip, but other than that, feels fully recovered.
“For the most part, athletically, everything is falling into place pretty good,” Dean said. “Condition wise, I feel good. There were a couple of times I had to accelerate to the ball and it just happened normally. That gives me more confidence to keep running hard.”
Dead added that though he’ll sit out the contact drills, he plans to test and push his body as much as he can during noncontact drills and stay focused in the classroom when the team is learning plays and concepts.
“For the most part, the spring is a lot of learning and strengthening myself again,” Dean said. “But I think this spring is going to be more of a mental thing for me. We have some new things coming into the system.
“The biggest thing for me is to get back to where we had our offense before, get back to where I was before, and kind of try to add that to whatever new things we have coming.”