LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) UL football assistant coach D.J. Looney passed away Saturday morning following a heart attack during a team workout at Cajun Field. Looney was 31 years old.
The Athletics Department released this statement:
“The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Department of Athletics mourns the sudden loss of Louisiana football assistant coach D.J. Looney, who passed away Saturday morning following a heart attack during a team workout at Cajun Field. At this time, the Department of Athletics asks that fans, friends, and acquaintances of Coach Looney keep his family and the football program in their thoughts and prayers.”
Looney was entering his third season on staff with the Ragin’ Cajuns, working specifically with the offensive line. He helped develop two NFL draft picks in Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson.
The Birmingham, Alabama native played for Mississippi State. Prior to UL, Looney also coached at Mississippi State, Georgia, Central Arkansas, and East Mississippi Community College.
“If people knew how much of one of the guys he was, he was just one of those guys you had the privilege of being around in his short time of being here,” UL football alum and current radio color analyst Chris Lanaux says. “I’m honored to say I got to know him in the couple of years I’ve been a color analyst here. It’s just one of those moments where I’m never gonna forget where I was when I found out that he left us.”
Many people took to social media to honor Coach Looney, including former Cajuns offensive lineman Robert Hunt who was drafted by the Miami Dolphins.
Current Cajuns offensive lineman Shane Vallot also tweeted his condolences.
Louisiana quarterback Levi Lewis shared his love for Coach Looney on Twitter as well.
Head coach Billy Napier released this statement Saturday night:
“For those who knew D.J. Looney, we can all agree we were better because of it. We lost a tremendous coach, leader and person today. He sincerely cared for others. He had a unique ability to impact and encourage people in a positive way. His smile and energy will be sorely missed. Our team, his family, friends and many others across the nation mourn D.J.’s passing. Most importantly, we will all share memories of a great human being we were lucky to know. We pray for all involved during this difficult time.”
Lanaux developed a close relationship with Coach Looney over the last two seasons. He says the outpouring of support to Coach Looney is evidence of the impact he left on the players on and off the field.
“He had such a greater impact than just an assistant offensive line coach,” Lanaux says. “He really put his stamp on players. Players really looked up to him. You can see that just moments after his death, his surprising death, that these prominent figure heads of college football just the outpouring of how they have reached out through social media. I think that right there is a testament to the kind of guy that Looney was. You can’t really explain or describe him enough as far as just how beloved he was, not only as a coach but as just one of the guys.”
D.J. Looney was 31 years old. Our thought and prayers are with his family and the entire UL football community.