His progress is encouraging no matter how incremental it seems to be. – School district public information officer Maury Vasquez

Zadock Dinkelmann’s remarkable faith and rock-solid belief has been in full bloom this May, the month he committed to play quarterback for BYU after weeks of watching his father struggle to live.

His father, Somerset High School (Texas) athletic director and defensive coordinator Johan Dinkelmann, suffered two strokes in the final days of April while attending the Region IV-4A track championships in Kingsville. Dinkelmann’s strokes took place April 28 and 29. He was airlifted from Corpus Christi to University Hospital in San Antonio May 4.

Johan, 44, is currently at San Antonio’s LifeCare Hospital where he’s been since May 12. According to school district public information officer Maury Vasquez, Dinkelmann has started to breathe on his own for short periods of time. Earlier, his condition required him to be on a ventilator all the time. He still cannot speak, but according to BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, his brother-in-law can respond to family by blinking his eyes.

Johan is married to Ty Detmer’s sister Dee.

“His progress is encouraging no matter how incremental it seems to be,” Vasquez told MySanAntonio.com. “Doctors have reminded the family this is a long process.”

Zadock, a 6-foot-5 quarterback who made national news when he was offered and committed to play for LSU when in the eighth grade, has unashamedly taken a lead of faith and prayer on social media as the Somerset community has rallied around his father in this crisis.

On May 3, Zadock tweeted, “I trust your grace can be seen in both triumph and tragedy.” On May 6, he followed with “One step at a time we’re going to win this battle.” Still, later, he posted, “My father is such a fighter, I’m so proud of him.”

In this, his junior year, he’s kept a theme of faith, another time tweeting, “My main goal in life is to turn all my accomplishments and the praise and the glory I receive from them to God, to remind you he is our King.”

An all-around multiple sport athlete, Zadock is a popular personality at his school. Born with a Paul Newman smile and larger than life physical attributes since elementary school, he is bigger than his two uncles, BYU’s 1990 Heisman winner Ty and Ty’s younger brother Koy, who starred at Colorado before joining Ty with NFL careers.

“He’s a big kid,” said his grandfather and coach at Somerset, Sonny Detmer. “LSU got on to him early by watching his film. He has a very strong arm and was big for his age even back then. When LSU fired Les Miles and his staff after this past season, Zadock called LSU’s new staff to see where he stood. When they told him they’d discuss it and get back to him, he took that to mean they didn’t know and they had other plans, so he de-committed.”

Sonny Detmer, of course, is biased about his grandson, but he’s also put two of his sons in the NFL. I’ve been talking to Sonny about football for 31 years, since the summer of 1986. Now in his 70s, Sonny extended his coaching career to help develop Koy’s son, Koy Jr., now at BYU, and Zadock, a class of 2018 Cougar commit.

“He’s got the size and height people are looking for. He’s over 6-5 and about 235. He played basketball and could have played baseball, but there’s been too much going on,” said Sonny.

“He understands the game really well. Going to BYU, he’ll pretty much run the same offense we’ve run here at Somerset. He’s been ranked among the top drop-back quarterbacks in the state for a long time. He can run it. He was a hurdler, one of the best around here until he was going over a hurdle and cracked a bone and missed his sophomore year, which wasn’t a good thing.”

Sonny said Zadock’s arm strength and accuracy stand out. “He’s a clear thinker.”

Sonny praised Zadock’s father and called Johan’s stroke a tragedy that was so rare, and to happen while so young makes it even more so. Sonny's daughter, Dee, is a schoolteacher.

“He is extremely intelligent and has been a great athletic director for Somerset. He’s a tremendous guy, has common sense about things and runs a good department. He’s been a great defensive coordinator for us. We’ve been the No. 1 defense in our league the past three years because of him. Then, we play offense, so that’s a good combination.”

Detmer said the tough thing for the family with Johan is nobody knows how much of his brain was affected by the stroke. “Some people, over time, can recover and get back, others do not. You just don’t know.”

Sonny said Zadock and his sister Taylor have been filled with faith that prayers for their father will be answered; that his future is in the hands of God. “Both have been about as good about this as any kids could in this kind of situation.

“It was good that he was transferred from Corpus Christi back to San Antonio so they wouldn’t need to be there, but at home, and get on with their regular routines to take their minds off this as much as possible.”

While Zadock isn’t in a BYU uniform yet, he does wear No. 14 at Somerset, the retired number his uncle Ty wore during an All-American career as a Cougar.

Like all the tragedies that happen to many who walk through this life, this Dinkelmann setback has created a mountain for this family to maneuver this summer and months, if not years to come.

“There has been improvement, things we can hang a lot of hope on,” said the Detmer patriarch. “We hear stories of people coming back. The hospital knows a lot about these things, much more than before. He’s doing some physical things, but we’re told he can do a lot of healing by sleeping and resting.” Sonny confirmed Johan’s communications through eye blinks and hand squeezes.

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“He’s in there. We’ve just got to get him out of there.”

It wouldn’t hurt if people in the Utah community joined this Texas family, adding to the Somerset prayers this Memorial Day weekend, a time we celebrate lives lived and loved ones lost.

As Zadock tweeted last Monday when he committed to BYU, “Blessed through his amazing grace.” (Colossians 3:17)

And so, we are all so blessed.

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