SAN ANTONIO – As far back as Somerset High School quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann can remember, football has been a family affair.
That’s why Friday night’s season opener against Brackenridge at Somerset will be different for Dinkelmann, a senior who has committed to BYU.
His father, Johan Dinkelmann, will be missing from the sideline. Dinkelmann, the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator and athletic director of the Somerset ISD, had a debilitating stroke in late April that left him without the ability to walk, speak or breathe on his own.
Dinkelmann, 45, has been a patient at Select Rehabilitation Hospital of San Antonio since early August.
“I miss him a lot, but I know he’s getting better,” Zadock said this week. “It’s just going to take time. This season is going to be all for him. I know he would want me to be out on the football field, and I want to make him proud. All glory to God.”
Somerset head coach Sonny Detmer, Zadock’s grandfather, blinked back tears as he talked about his son-in-law’s stroke and how the family has rallied around him.
“It’s been tough, of course,” Detmer said. “We’ve always been a very close family, but this has brought us even closer. At the same time, as we’ve gone through this, it makes you realize how many other families are going through the same thing. Your heart goes out to them."
“But people who have strokes get better. They get over it. They come back. We’re hoping and praying Johan can do that. Zadock has been superb in how he’s handled it. I think what helped him was being involved in sports. It’s kept his mind occupied.”
Zadock, who comes from a family of quarterbacks, agreed with his grandfather.
“Sports is something my family has always done,” Zadock said. “Every sport I’ve been involved in, it’s always been with him (Johan). Coming out here and playing my sport, like I know he would want, helps me get away from it all. Being in a hospital all day is not a good thing. I know he wants me to be on the field.”
From watching his father and grandfather coach under the Friday night lights to hearing stories about his uncles’ careers as prolific high school and college passers, or throwing the ball around in the backyard as a kid, Zadock has grown up with a love for football.
“I was a ballboy ever since I could walk,” Zadock said. “I remember looking forward to Friday nights during football season when I was a little kid. You can see me on (Somerset) highlight tapes whenever my brother was playing, little me running down the sideline whenever we scored.”
Zadock made national headlines in February 2014 when he committed to LSU as a 14-year-old eighth-grader. But he withdrew his commitment in January, almost four months after Tigers coach Les Miles was fired four games into the 2016 season. Zadock considered pledging to Texas, but he backed off after coach Charlie Strong was fired after the season.
Recruited by BYU after he withdrew his commitment to LSU, Zadock committed to the Cougars in May. Dinkelmann’s uncle, Ty Detmer, is BYU’s offensive coordinator and won the Heisman Trophy as a junior at BYU in 1990.
Zadock, 18, visits his father about twice a week and gives him updates on the Somerset football team. Above all, Zadock has focused on being upbeat around his father.
Unconscious initially, Dinkelmann is awake now and has regained much of the strength on his right side. He’s also managed to breathe on his own for hours at a time.
Zadock’s mother, Dee, has been married to Johan for 19 years. The couple also has a daughter, Taylor, a sophomore at Somerset who plays volleyball for the Bulldogs.
Dee Dinkelmann is the oldest daughter of Betty and Sonny Detmer and sister of Ty and Koy Detmer, who had a stellar career at Colorado before following his older brother into the NFL.
Dee has another son, Stevie Joe Dorman, who coaches the Somerset quarterbacks. A 2011 Somerset graduate, Dorman also played for his grandfather. He set the San Antonio area’s career passing record with 9,253 yards.
“My favorite quarterback of all time, when I was a little fourth-grader and fifth-grader, was my brother Stevie Joe. That was the best one right there. He passed for like 3,000 yards a year.”
Zadock also has a close relationship with Koy Detmer Jr., who played at Somerset and is now a sophomore at BYU. Zadock backed up Koy Jr., who is known as “Little Koy” by his friends and family, as a freshman at Somerset.
Asked what he thinks it will be like to compete against his cousin for the starting job at BYU, Zadock chuckled before replying.
“It’s going to be crazy,” he said. “As a kid, watching Little Koy play on Friday nights, you want to be just like him. You want to make all the plays that he makes. So, going out there and try to compete with the guy you’ve looked up to your whole life, it’s crazy. It’s going to be a good learning experience. I know that for sure.”
Zadock was set to be Somerset’s starting quarterback as a sophomore in 2015, but a stress fracture in his right ankle sidelined him for the entire season.
“We had a great team that year, too,” Zadock said. “We were loaded with receivers and running backs. We ran the ball every play. Teams knew we were going to run every play, and they still couldn’t stop us. It was one of those years you look forward to, and then it’s over before it starts.”
Zadock returned last season and played well after knocking off some rust, completing 148 of 249 passes for 1,927 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was intercepted five times. Somerset reached the third round of the Class 4A Division I playoffs and finished 10-3.
Now 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Zadock has the size not often seen at the quarterback position on the high school level.
“Zadock can make all the throws, and he’s a real smart kid,” Sonny Detmer said. “He’s learned a lot about the offense. He can throw with velocity when he needs to, but he also can put it over the top with a nice touch.
“He gets a little off with his footwork once in a while because he thinks he can do anything. He’ll be running sideways and throw sidearm. The worst thing, he’ll hit it all the time, so he thinks that’s the way to do it.”
Stevie Joe Dorman, 25, is in his second season as Somerset’s quarterback coach. He succeeded the elder Koy, who is now head coach at Mission, where he was a record-setting quarterback in the early 1990s.
“Zadock didn’t play his first varsity game until last year, so he was a little rusty after missing his sophomore season,” Dorman said. “He had to learn to play the game almost over again, but he improved, improved, improved. He has the size of any D-I quarterback and the arm, but most of all, he has the mind, too.”
Win or lose Friday night, there’s one thing Zadock will do for sure Saturday: Go visit his father.
“I think about him all the time,” he said.