And boy did he ever make the most of his opportunity.
DeJean, who was allowed to submit a late entry to the Scholastic National Indoor Track and Field Championships with some help from Rome school officials, placed third in the meet while tying his personal best in the long jump on Friday with a distance of 23 feet, 10 1/4 inches.
After intervention on the part of Rome Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Simons and athletic director Mike Stamboly, meet officials chose to allow DeJean to compete even though he had missed the March 1 deadline to apply for the competition.
He was joined at the national meet by five members of the RFA girls indoor track team who had also earned berths by meeting qualifying standards.
DeJean was Rome’s top performer at the meet, capturing a bronze medal and earning All-American status.
Informed on Wednesday that DeJean would not be going to New York, Simons began a full-blown effort to get DeJean signed up for the nationals.
"I initiated it," Simons said. "I contacted the father and I asked him if there was an opportunity for him to compete, would they be interested in participating, and he said yes. I was disappointed that he wasn’t going to be able to attend and I wanted to do everything I could to be able to get Anthony there."
Simons said he contacted Stamboly and asked him if he could attempt to reach USA Track and Field-Metropolitan officials to see if DeJean could get in as a late entrant.
"I logged on to their Web site and made a series of calls and after about an hour or an hour and a half I got a hold of somebody," Stamboly said. "I asked if we could get him in still, and they said absolutely. All he had to do was get down there to the registration table, and they said they would take the liberty to sign him through the registration.
"We all felt it was something that we had to do, and it was a great showing on the agency’s part that they were grateful enough to allow us to do this," he added.
You can check out the rest of this story online at the Rome Sentinel.