Frontenac High School has one of the most tradition rich football programs in the state of Kansas. The Raiders, now 3A and have played in every class from 1A to 4A-II/4A over the years, are second all-time in wins in Kansas history, second to only Lawrence High School. The program may only have one state title back in 1994 but has multiple runner-up finishes with six since 1969 in the modern playoff era. The school has produced a lot of very good football players over the years but not many that get FBS full-ride football scholarships but that isn’t the case with junior-to-be defensive end and tight end Landon Dean.
Dean, who stands 6-foot-4 and a half inch while weighing 235-pounds, has picked up three FBS offers over the last couple of months as he approaches his junior football season. He is the first Frontenac player to pick up a Power-5 (Major Conference) offer since the 1960s (Bob Watt – Mizzou) and the first Frontenac player with an FBS offer since Broc Ginavan (2017 3A DPOY) picked up one offer from Wyoming three seasons ago but chose to play junior college baseball instead. Dean has offers from Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. All three from the Big 12 Conference. It’s not often to have those type of offers as you just finished your sophomore year of high school.
Dean has the size and ability that the recruiters love because he can fit into multiple spots whether that’s defensive end, tight end or offensive line. While recruiting is very size and potential based, Dean showed that potential a season ago in earning first team 3A all-state honors as a sophomore for the Raiders. He was an immediate impact player for FHS and also earned SIK All-Non Senior Team that features the top players that aren’t seniors in any class of Kansas. Dean has a shot to be one of the best in Kansas over the next two seasons. Frontenac has produced two Top 11 players All-Class in its history in Bob Watt (1965) and Broc Ginavan (2017) while Jason Hipfl (1990), Tildon Burns (1994), Brandon Mlekus (2016) and Ginavan (2017) have been their classifications Player of the Year on either offense or defense over the last 30 years.
"Landon had a tremendous sophomore year. He brings great size, tougheness and football IQ that make him a great player. He has a great work ethic in football and the weight room. More importantly hes a great teammate and has high character. He loves football." Frontenac head football coach Mark Smith said.
It isn’t just Dean either for the Raiders. The Raiders have a junior class this fall that is loaded. In fact, all four defensive lineman that started for the Raiders on their 10-1 team last year that lose in a close one to traditional power Topeka Hayden were all sophomores. And not only starters all four have the potential to be All-3A caliber players for the Raiders. Cruz Blair is one of those and was a first team all-state pick on the offensive line last season as a sophomore in 3A. Collin McCartney is primed to be one of the best two way players in 3A this season and Lane Franklin had a huge sophomore season in 2019. While the Raiders lost a very-talented senior group, these four will be depended upon heavily for leadership and ability in 2020. The Raiders will have a very highly talented defense led by defensive coordinator John Palumbo.
Dean also gets it done in the classroom with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He’s also a role model to many at FHS and we can’t begin to tell you how many good things his coaches and teachers say about him off-the-field/court since his arrival from Labette County as a freshman. He also plays on the basketball team to stay in shape and be a part of the team.
“Landon is the definition of a student athlete. He prides himself on being the hardest worker in the classroom and on the field/court. Everything he does is full speed. His family has raised a very humble and hard-working kid that takes nothing for granted, they should be proud.” Frontenac head basketball coach Ryan Varsolona said.
Division I football also runs in the family as his cousin Easton (Labette County HS) is a redshirt freshman tight end at Iowa State. Easton stands 6-foot-7 and is over 250 pounds as he enters year number two for the Cyclones.
We caught up with Dean below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
This feature is powered by Labette Bank and Craw Kan Telephone.
Chet Kuplen, CEO/Founder of Sports in Kansas, on Dean
“Landon has a lot of potential. I first met him when he was a freshman when I spoke at the school on the power of social media tour in spring of 2019 and was overly impressed by size alone. He also came up and introduced himself, not something you would see a freshman often do. I wasn’t really expecting to hear much of him until later down the road with being so young but that wasn’t the case. Then I see him play last fall and knew he had a shot from my experience in working with Division I coaches across the country. He jumped off the page. You know the kid was going to be special when Kansas State was texting you about him in his first few sophomore games last fall. It’s hard for seniors or juniors to get those kind of looks that he was getting last year. Its also very impressive to see the three offers because Division I schools can have camps this summer, contact has been minimal and its been very tough for a lot of coaches to check players out. Normally when a player has around three offers entering sophomore year we could see that number jump up to 10 by the time the junior season is finished, not saying thats the case with Landon but it's common. Coach Smith, Coach Vars and Coach Pyle have also had so many good things to say about the kid. On another note, Mark Smith has built something special in Frontenac but don’t expect too many 6-foot-4.5 and 235 pounders to just be walking around the hallways in Southeast Kansas. He’s taken a lot of role players and turned them into really good football players. I expect a huge year in 3A football. May be hyping them up a little and putting a target on their back but I really like what I saw from that sophomore defensive line unit last year. Topeka Hayden lineman probably had no clue all those guys were sophomores as they sure didn’t play like it.”
Q&A w/ Dean
How did you get involved in football?
I’ve always enjoyed watching and playing football. I started playing tackle football in the second grade. My dad was always my coach growing up and taught me to love the game.
What are your goals this season?
My goal is to win the State Championship.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
We lost a lot of seniors, but I believe we have guys that can step up and help us make a serious run this year.
What makes you such a force as a player?
My commitment to the game and intensity on the field help me to be a force when playing.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
The atmosphere is exciting in Frontenac. Our community and school are very supportive of the football program. This allows for a big crowd on Friday nights.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
We have a winning culture at Frontenac and are a very explosive and exciting team to watch.
Who are other key players on your team?
All of our defensive linemen from last year will return in some form for the 2020 season. This includes Lane Franklin, Collin McCartney and Cruz Blair. These guys deserve much credit for our success on defense last year, and I look forward to seeing what they will bring this year.
Favorite thing about football?
There is no game like football; it is the greatest game anyone can play. Nothing compares to Friday night lights.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I play basketball to be a part of the team and to keep in shape during the offseason.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Coach Smith is a great coach and an even better person. He always goes out of his way to make sure that we are the best we can be both on and off the field. I admire him for his football knowledge and great personality.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
My plan is to continue playing football at the next level. I’m blessed and excited to have this opportunity.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
I enjoy hunting and fishing with family and friends.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself with a job that involves football. I hope to have a family and be living a successful life.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject in school is History. I have a 4.0 GPA.
Who is your role model?
My role model is my Grandpa. He is a successful businessman and has taught me useful knowledge. I’ve always looked up to him. He played college football and coached for a short period of time. He, too, has taught me much about football.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
Shooters Bar & Grill in downtown Frontenac is hard to beat. If you come to Frontenac, you should try it out. I recommend the chicken wings with Sully Sauce.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
I am a Denver Broncos fan living in Kansas, which isn’t always easy.
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