CONYERS — The path Andre Deas has ventured down since graduating from Heritage in 2015 has been a winding one.
Deas spent his first two years of college playing soccer for the University of Central Florida, where playing time was hard to come by for the Conyers native. As a freshman, Deas appeared in 14 matches and scored one goal. As a sophomore, Deas played in 16 matches and scored one goal.
A standout both at Heritage and while playing for the Concorde Fire in the U.S. Development Academy, Deas thought it was time for a change of scenery after tallying just two goals in two years for the Knights.
“It just wasn’t what I expected,” Deas said of his time at UCF. “I was young and the environment wasn’t the right environment for me to be in. I wanted to expand my abilities and go pro and stuff just didn’t work out. I decided to go to a place where I could start off fresh.”
Originally recruited by Cal State Northridge out of high school, an NCAA Division 1 program based out of the Big West Conference, Deas reached out to the program to see if they still had an interest in him.
“I had six weeks to decide where I was going to go to school,” Deas said. “I had already emailed schools that had been recruiting me before and Cal State Northridge was one of those schools. I reached out to the coaches and luckily they still had an interest in me. They gave me a second chance.”
After sitting out the 2017 season with a redshirt, Deas played out his final two years as a Matador and had his fair share of ups and downs on the pitch. While he said his time at Cal State Northridge wasn’t everything he had hoped for, it was more than enough to get him prepared for the next chapter of his life as a professional soccer player.
“It was a good situation,” Deas said. “The team was very positive and that was one of the biggest differences from UCF. The diversity and the team work ethic was always there. We wound up winning a conference championship my first year there and we entered the NCAA tournament and that was cool.”
Deas also had a chance to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies this past summer and had started on a Masters in Tourism, Hospitality and Recreation Management before having an opportunity to take the next step in his soccer career.
Still living in California, Deas attended the 2019 Fusion Soccer Club Pro Combine in Ventura where he participated in a two-day showcase in front of six different USL coaches and scouts.
“I think we played four scrimmages in two days and luckily I was one of the players that was going to get signed from one of the teams,” Deas said.
With interested from several of the teams in attendance, Deas chose Hartford Athletic, a USL team based out of Hartford, Connecticut.
“I liked the opportunity there,” Deas said. “It’s something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was young. To achieve that, it’s cool, but it doesn’t stop here. This is just the first opportunity. It’s time to take advantage of this and expand from there.”
Sharing a partnership with Southampton Football Club of the English Premier League, one of the top destinations for the world’s top soccer stars, Deas said that’s where he has his sights set.
The USL also has many partnerships with Major League Soccer, including Atlanta United II, one of the teams Deas and Hartford will play next in Marietta on June 20.
Comfortable playing several different positions, Deas is expected to receive playing time at left wingback. In college, Deas spent time in the midfield and forward.
“At Hartford, I think they will be using me as a left wingback,” Deas said. “We will see how it goes. I’m willing to play wherever the coach feels he needs me to play.”
Back home in Conyers for a rare visit, Deas will make his way to Hartford for the first time on Jan. 22 for their preseason camp. Their season will begin in early March.
“My ultimate goal is to make it to the highest level that I can play in,” Deas said. “Once I finish playing soccer, hopefully give back to the youth in Atlanta and all over the place and take it from there. I went through a lot of adversity and it taught me to stay to true myself, have a work ethic and always believe in what you can do.”