The Cleveland Browns made a minor roster move on Friday as the team announced the signing of tight end Mik’Quan Deane.
In a corresponding transaction, the Browns released wide receiver Blake Jackson with an injury designation.
Deane is an undrafted free agent out of Western Kentucky, where he played two seasons. After catching just 11 passes his first year with the Hilltoppers, Deane had 44 receptions for 530 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.
The signing is likely tied to the unavailability of tight end Seth DeValve, who entered the league-mandated concussion protocol on Wednesday.
Even though he may just be a camp body, Deane’s journey to an NFL training camp is an inspirational one.
His father was sentenced to prison when Deane was five, and his mother soon followed after being arrested for shoplifting - with Deane and his two brothers acting as lookouts. With both parents in prison, Deane and his siblings went sent to live with an uncle before they were eventually sent to live in a foster home.
The Deane children were reunited with their mother about a year later and Deane’s brothers eventually turned to gangs. Not wanting to be in that environment, Deane chose to live with friends and found football, as he told Jon Scott at Spectrum Local News in June:
“I felt like I would rather be somewhere else just because I’d seen the way my brothers went and I kind of wanted a change of pace. It was kind of weird. I felt like I wanted to see what it was like being with a white family. I’ve seen so much bad that all I wanted was just a change of life.
”I think it was my 2nd or 3rd game playing running back and I think I rushed for like 429 yards with six touchdowns. And I just realized that, wow, I could probably be really good at football if I actually try and work on my craft.”
Academic issues forced Deane to spend three seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M junior college, before finishing his college career at Western Kentucky. As he worked on his football career, Deane also rebuilt the relationship with his parents as they worked to turn their lives around.
Those experiences helped inspire Deane as he chases his NFL dream, he told Spectrum Local News:
“I feel like life can throw whatever at me and I’m going to bounce off of it because going through those things when I was younger just made me so tough. It always keeps me fueled and where I was at and promising myself that I’ll never have my family, any of my family be like that. I promise to make sure everyone is set and I’m just going to change the trajectory of my whole family.”
Deane’s stay in Cleveland may be a short one, but given everything he has overcome it likely will not be because of a lack of effort on his part.