Tiger Insider Sneak Peak: Delusme Overcomes All To Land In Clemson


by - Correspondent -
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No one deserves the life Ronnie Delusme had before he turned 12.

In the fiery summers of South Florida, Delusme surely must have thought
he was in hell.

"He's a wonderful kid considering everything that's happened to him,"
said Mark Swanson, his coach at Lely High School.

Delusme doesn't like to talk much about life before he was adopted by
Greg and Val Healy, not over the phone with a stranger from South Carolina.
No one could fully understand what he's been through, anyway.

"I went into a group home when I was eight and was adopted on my 12th
birthday," he said.
Life's been too good since then to worry too much about the past.

After scoring 17 touchdowns in just about every conceivable way last
season, he's headed to Clemson to play cornerback.

"The say you can walk into something and know it's right," he said, of
his official visit to Clemson. "I walked around up there and knew it was the
right place for me."

Delusme is quick and agile. He was leading the 300-meter hurdles in the
4-A state track meet last year when he fell on the last turn.

"He came off the corner and he stumbled, got a step screwed up, I guess,"
said Swanson. "He was winning by 10 yards."

He refused to quit. He pulled himself up and still finished sixth. Until
the fall, his 6-2 frame had carried him over the hurdles like a deer. A
state record was in sight. He had run the 300 hurdles in 38.7 seconds
earlier in the year, just a half-second off the 4-A state record.

Apparently some high school football teams needed proof Delusme could
fly. He returned the three of the first five kickoffs last fall for
touchdowns. He returned the first two against Charlotte High, then another
against Carron Collier High.

No one kicked to him again.

"We started kicking away from him after he ran the second one back," said
Charlotte coach Robert Waldrop, somewhat defensively. "He's in the upper
echelon of athletes down here in South Florida."

Lely went 5-1 over the first part of the seasons, but lost its final four
games.

For the season, the Trojans managed just 22 touchdowns. Delusme scored 17
of them.

He blocked a couple of punts and returned them for touchdowns. He
returned two interceptions for touchdowns. He ran the ball from the
backfield for touchdowns. He caught three passes for touchdowns -- all of
them over 90 yards.

He did all of it with every one keying on him.

Teams did not throw his way when he was at cornerback and they knew that
he was probably going to get the ball if he was in the backfield.

"He just got off the ball so quick," said Swanson. "We used him all over
the defense. When we played a Wing-T team, instead of leaving him at corner,
we would walk him up on the wing and let him basically blitz them to run the
play down from behind. We played a team in the Wing-T that liked to feature
one player and we put him at free safety and let him spy on the kid. We did
a lot of different things with him."

After Lely quarterback Andrew Powell blew out his knee, the Trojans'
season went down hill.

"I did the best I could, but it wasn't enough," said Delusme. "We felt
like we overcame one thing and it only got worse and worse. We kept our
composure pretty well, but we weren't winning. We had a pretty rough season
before this one, too."

There's nothing in his voice, though, that indicates anything about the
rough time his team has had or the rough time he had as a child, for that
matter. Delusme learned early in life that carrying the past around like
baggage isn't healthy.

After his mom died he was eventually placed in an orphanage for four
years.

His coach doesn't paint a pretty picture of the place. None of the kids
deserved to be there, least of all Delusme, who spent time in several places
before he landed there. None of the stops were kind to him.
Somewhere along the line he could have given up. He could have stayed down.

But Delusme kept getting up, just like he did that day at the state track
meet.

"If you ever met Ronnie, you would never guess that he's been through
everything he's been through," said Swanson. "He's not bitter. He doesn't
have a chip on his shoulder. After all that happened to him, he's a great
kid."

NOTE: The following is an edited version of a story that will appear in the Spring Edition of the Tiger Insider (Issue #4). You can find more information about Tiger Insider or purchase it by clicking here.

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