Dewhirst's comeback being felt by opponents
Getting in the end zone once against Charleston Southern wasn’t enough for safety Jordan Dewhirst did it again and with the second score loudly announced his return to the JU football team.

Dewhirst first returned an interception 39 yards for a score and then returned an onside kick 44 yards for another in JU’s 31-10 win.

He also recovered a fumble, recorded six tackles and became the team’s leading scorer early on in the season and the effort won Pioneer Football League Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The comeback was the next step in a process that started early last season when, ironically, Dewhirst played only handful of plays against Charleston Southern before injuring a shoulder and going down for the year.

Dewhirst actually had a prelude to his Charleston Southern effort the week before when he and linebacker Taylor Marsh led the team in tackles (seven) against Georgia Southern but beginning the third quarter the Bucs got the full broadside.

He scored the first JU touchdown of the season with 10:11 to play in the third when he intercepted a Malcolm Dixon pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.

“I saw the ball in the air, caught it and saw I had some blockers,’’ Dewhirst said. “I saw a cut back lane and I was just determined to get it in.’’

He's not a stranger to returning picks for scores. In 2010 he set the school record by returning one 100 yards against Marist and is the all-time school leader in interception yards with 230 yards.

In the fourth quarter, linebacker Blythe Weaver forced a fumble from CSU receiver Nathan Perera which Dewhirst recovered and the Dolphins scored two plays later to go up 24-3.

The next kick was the onside attempt.

“Right before that I was thinking ‘don’t let this come near me’,’’ he said. “It came right at me, I got a good block from Dre (Andre Addison) and everything worked out.’’

For Dewhirst it was a personal party after the struggles of last year and the shoulder is fine.

“I was a little worried coming into the season with how my shoulder would hold up but it feels great and it’s good to be back,’’ he said. “It feels great to be back. It’s great to be out there with my teammates again.’’

Secondary coach Danny Verpaele said having Dewhirst back has changed the complexion of what the unit does.

“He’s a big body back there and we missed him last year,’’ Verpaele said. “Somehow he finds a way to make plays. He’s productive. He finds a way to get to the ball.’’

Verpaele said Dewhirst showed up to camp bigger than expected and that was fine with him.

“He came in big and now he’s getting into playing shape,’’ Verpaele said. “He was about 220 pounds but it was a good 220 pounds, it wasn’t sloppy. We rely more on speed than size and he can run.’’

Verpaele noted that now healthy, Dewhirst can almost write his own ticket.

“He understands the defense, he knows what’s going on and really studies and takes it to hear,’’ he said. “He takes pride in what he does and is a hard worker. It’s up to him what he wants to do and how far he’ll go.’’

- Jim Nasella