By Brady Greene
Photos by JDCHS junior Santana Valdez & Ryan Talbot (USU Athletic Media Relations)
Jason Doughty still remembers taking his nine-year old son, Jake, to football practice when he was in the third grade. As time came to switch training stations, Jake bunny-hopped across the field to the next set of drills.
His dad, watching his son hop, was sure he would be an epic failure at football. Little did they know that, in 14 years, Jake would be participating in the Green Bay Packers’ training camp.
However, Jake, who graduated from Juan Diego Catholic High School in 2009, says he knew someday he would become the player he is today. His determination to keep playing the game he loves comes from a quote he lives by: “Adversity causes some to break, but others to break records” (William Arthur Ward).
Jake has faced adversity his entire life. From only getting one play at the high school camp at Utah State University, to having to walk on at Utah State four years later, to recently being told he cannot make it in the National Football League because he is not tall enough.
Jason, however, says his son’s determination has helped him through these adversities. When Jake was 12 years old, Jason remembers asking him, “Have you ever considered this NFL thing doesn’t work out?”
But Jake was insistent; “I don’t care what you say, I am playing in the NFL,” he said, and that was that. Jake went through the same steps of adversity and determination each time.
“It starts off with people not believing in me, but that motivates me to say ‘the hell with what you think, I will prove you wrong,” Jake said, “and if you don’t want to help me, then get out of the way. I will do it myself.”
Proving People Wrong
With each obstacle Jake has faced, he has come back to prove coaches wrong. Jake won high school all-state honors, was a two-time first team all-conference selection in college, was No. 2 in the nation in tackles, and earned defensive most valuable player honors in the Poinsettia Bowl game his senior year.
During the 2014 NFL Draft, Jake waited for the call. Instead of getting one, he got three. The Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all called Jake—not to draft him, but to sign him as a free agent. Jake decided to sign with the Packers because of the small-town feel in Green Bay and the success of the program.
He worked out with the team throughout the summer and played in all four preseason games, but was released in the final round of cuts.
“It kind of sparked a fire,” Jake said. “If they don’t want me, I will keep working hard and get bigger, stronger, faster, and whatever team picks me up, they will take a chance with me and I will show everyone who doubted me that I can play.”
Jason admires Jake’s commitment to football and his dedication to the game.
“Work ethic is a big part,” Jason said. “I don’t think anyone is going to out-prepare Jake physically and mentally. Anyone with that characteristic, you just can’t count them out.”
Jake has been criticized in the NFL for his height. He is only 6 feet tall, compared to the NFL average of 6-2 for his position, inside linebacker.
To work through it, he has bulked up to 250 pounds, while still maintaining his speed, as one of the fastest inside linebackers with a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. On March 22, Jake participated at the NFL veteran combine and on April 5, he was at the Utah State pro day.
Those two events are for players attempting to make it in the NFL. The scouts for the 32 NFL teams look at each player’s set of skills and decide if they would like to sign the player for the upcoming season.
The veteran’s combine is a showcase for a limited number of players from any college or background, while the Utah State pro day is for all players who previously attended Utah State.
The biggest fear for Jason is to see his son work this hard to be in the NFL and eventually have to change directions.
“At some point, the game is over, especially competing at the highest levels,” Jason said. “There is a point where you can no longer do it.”
Back To His Roots
Jake has been working out at Juan Diego five times a week during the offseason. He works with a strength trainer, speed and agility trainer and has a nutritionist. The nutritionist works with Jake on gaining weight and then turning it to lean muscle for the season.
Meanwhile, Jake, who graduated from Utah State University in mechanical engineering, has been accepted to the University of Utah’s MBA program for the fall. Still, he hopes his football career will rule out further study in the immediate future.
Jake says he may never stop trying to reach his goal due to one quote his grandpa taught him: “The only way to stop a determined man is to kill him.” Jake has been determined to get to the NFL his whole life, and is not intending to stop anytime soon.