At any given Dallas Cowboys home game, you might see Highland Park wide receiver J.T. Dooley on the sideline, holding an iPad for coaches.
It’s a job that would make just about any high school player envious, and in Dooley’s case, it came about because of who he knows.
His father, Derek, is the receivers coach for the Cowboys, carrying on a family coaching legacy that J.T. hopes to continue once his playing days are done.
But prior to that, the senior has plenty of unfinished business in his first varsity season with the Scots after playing the previous two years at the junior varsity level. And he takes advantage of the fact that he has an NFL assistant coach living in the same house.
“We love it, can’t get enough of it,” J.T. said. “He knows what he’s talking about. He coaches Dez Bryant, so I take his word for some stuff.”
When he was born, J.T.’s family lived in University Park while Derek was an assistant at SMU. But as many coaching families do, he moved around a lot during his childhood, as Derek was an assistant at LSU for five years, then for two years with the Miami Dolphins. He then spent three seasons as the head coach at Louisiana Tech and another three at Tennessee.
So it might not have exactly felt like a homecoming for J.T. when his nomadic family moved back to Dallas prior to his freshman year. Yet coming back to the Park Cities, and specifically to HP, was always his first choice.
“It’s such a great high school with such a great football tradition,” said J.T., whose mother is a Fort Worth native.
His grandfather, Vince Dooley, was a legendary coach for three decades at the University of Georgia. And his great-uncle, Bill Dooley, was a head coach for 25 years at North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. So naturally, J.T. began playing football at a very young age.
“He’s always had a football in his hand and he’s always been running routes, so that’s definitely an advantage,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “He’s real football-savvy. He has good instincts and knows what to do on the field.”
While some children might not want to follow in their father’s footsteps, J.T. doesn’t hide his aspirations to do just that. He constantly talks football with his father, sits in on meetings with the Cowboys when he gets the chance, and soaks up as much knowledge as possible. And Derek usually has Fridays off, so he’s able to come watch the Scots.
“My dad relates directly to what I do and what I play,” J.T. said. “It definitely helps a lot.”