Beyond the Jersey: Remembering the life and legacy of Coach D.J. Looney after sudden death


LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) Last weekend, the Ragin’ Cajun football community lost one of its most beloved: assistant coach D.J. Looney.

He passed away after suffering a heart attack during a team workout at Cajun Field on August 1.

The Birmingham native wasn’t just an offensive line coach, as he impacted so many on the team on and off the field with his bright smile and joyful spirit.

“This was a guy who really poured himself into people,” Louisiana football head coach Billy Napier says. “I think that’s what made him really special.”

“He was just one of those guys you had the privilege of being around in his short time of being here,” former Cajuns football player and current radio color analyst Chris Lanaux says.

“To say that Coach Looney was impactful to this team would be a gross understatement,” Louisiana Director of Athletics Dr. Bryan Maggard says.

Coach Looney was entering only his third season with the Cajuns, but his touching legacy, vibrant energy, and caring impact on those around him will live on for many more years.

“Thirty-one years of age, and I think that young man touched more people than I probably ever will in my entire lifetime,” Dr. Maggard says. “Certainly with our student-athletes, our coaches, and really all the staff surrounding our football program in particular, it was a devastating loss.”

Last Monday, the team held a memorial service for Coach Looney.

At the service, head coach Billy Napier spoke to a grieving team, focusing on what Coach Looney’s life exemplified and the legacy he left behind for the culture of the Cajuns.

“My message to the team was about, what did we learn from D.J.,” Napier says. “What did we learn from Coach Looney? I think the whole concept of leaving a legacy, although he was young, he impacted many partly because he was an encourager. He consistently worked to encourage people and build people up. I think D.J.’s had as much to do with that as anybody.”

Cajuns offensive lineman Shane Vallot has since tweeted that this season is for Coach Looney.

And the brotherhood of the o-linemen is what’s helping him get through such a sudden loss.

“It was tough,” Vallot says. “It was tough. Just being by each other, just being with our teammates, being up here, being with the o-line, it’s getting us through this right now. That’s the biggest thing is being here for each other.”

“That was a very tragic thing. I wish no one could ever experience something like that,” senior offensive lineman Cole Prudhomme says. “That was very tough for us. That event really showed the bond and culture that our team has and our community, the way we came together just being there in support, being there for each other. It is truly incredible and I’m thankful to have them. I love them to death.”

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