JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls High School senior linebacker Heath Dooley signed his National Letter of Intent to play football for Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls on Feb. 1, which is National Signing Day.
Three years ago, few people might have imagined that Dooley would receive a football scholarship.
During the signing, Marble Falls head coach Matt Green told the audience a story about Dooley and the turnaround he experienced.
Green said the then-sophomore “was a good-looking kid. It didn’t take long to realize he was going to be a great football player.”
But one day, Dooley was enjoying himself a lot during practice and wasn’t quite as productive as some of his older teammates. Finally, Green called Dooley over and asked him about it.
“To be honest,” the youngster told the coach, “I don’t want to play football. I play football because my mom (Maureen Everett) is making me.”
“Well,” Green said, “I like your mom already.”
Really what had happened, the coach said, is that Dooley was asked to change from a receiver to a linebacker. And as the coaches and player experienced the pangs that came with a position change, something happened to Dooley.
He began to enjoy being a linebacker. One day, he found his coaches and said that he was all in on whatever he needed to do to help the program win and willing to play whatever position the team needed.
Meanwhile, Dooley was still able to play baseball.
“He was never the same player,” Green said. “I wanted you to grow up and be that dude. He became a leader. He became a guy who held his teammates accountable. He was a kid who played for the team.”
Dooley filled the stat sheets in 2016 with 79 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, five quarterback hurries, three pass breakups, three interceptions, two caused fumbles, four sacks, and a touchdown.
Green said Dooley’s natural attributes made him the ideal linebacker thanks to his frame, noting he went from 190 to 215 pounds. What made him the choice for middle linebacker is his intelligence, the coach added.
“Every play, you have to make adjustments,” he said. “It’s not the same adjustment twice. He could line others up, Heath has that ability.”
The reason he chose Midwestern State is because he found the coaches have the same approach to life that he does.
“Men of faith, men of integrity,” he said. “They all want to win.”
The size of the campus and the facilities were just right for the Marble Falls athlete, he said, which reminded him of his home.
The son of Will and Maureen Everett and Thomas Dooley is leaning toward a major in business.
His mother said the reason she wanted her son to play both sports is because she believes being a dual athlete was good for his physical and mental development.
He is beginning his workouts for summer conditioning as soon as he receives the packet. He is looking forward to getting started, he said.
“I’ll put in the work,” he said. “I’m ready for it.”