Many schools were after Jay Dineen early in the recruiting process — Kansas State, Iowa State, Northern Illinois and Michigan all wanted Dineen to camp.
He tossed their interest aside quickly with his May commitment to the Jayhawks.
“When I decided to commit to Kansas before all the camps, it just kind of all stopped,” Dineen said about the other interest. “I knew I wanted to play in Lawrence and play under coach (David) Beaty.”
There were several reason for the early and emphatic commitment to Kansas. Dineen and his family live in Lawrence, and his brother Joe Dineen is a junior linebacker with the Jayhawks himself.
“Living in Lawrence was a big part, being able to have my parents come to every game,” Dineen said. “And having my brother play on the team made it very easy to make the decision. I’m very close to him, and it will help me a lot.”
Joe injured his hamstring in the third game of the year, and missed the rest of the season for the Jayhawks. The good news is that he plans to apply for a medical redshirt, which would give the brothers two years to play together. Jay was just a freshman during Joe’s high school senior season — they never played together and just practiced together infrequently. They are both linebackers.
“I never really got a chance to play with him. He’s hoping for a medical redshirt to have two more years,” Jay said. “He plays more of a ‘Sam’, or ‘Will’ linebacker and I play more of a ‘Mike’ on the inside.”
Jay led Lawrence Free State High School in tackles this season, and set the school record for most tackles in a season.
“It’s been great. We made it to the final four again,” he said. “It’s just been and amazing fun ride, with it being the last time playing with all my friends.”
Dineen has played both sides of the ball during his high school career, at a variety of positions. He played tight end as a sophomore, fullback as a junior and filled in at left guard this past season when his team had a need.
He found that seeing plays develop from an offensive perspective has helped him become a better defender.
“It helps a lot, especially playing guard knowing that when I pull who they need to go after and that another guard is going to come and get the back side,” Dineen said. “It helps a lot reading — stuff I’ve picked up on.”
With his record-setting performance this season, there’s a lot Dineen is doing well on the field.
“Able to read offenses, get a good pre-snap read,” he said about his strengths. “I hit pretty hard, so hitting the guy in the hole and not letting them drag me a couple yards.”
He hopes to improve his lateral movement, knowing the level of competition moving forward is going to dramatically increase.
“My lateral movement could be a lot better. My speed in general,” Dineen said about how he wants to get better. “The Big 12 has a lot of fast paced offenses. There will be times I need to cover a speedy slot receiver or running back.”
Dineen made most Kansas games this season, but missed the big win over Texas because of a high school basketball scheduling conflict.
“Texas was a big win, not only for the team, but for recruiting purposes. Even the way we played against Kansas State showed a lot of improvement,” Dineen said. “I think Carter Stanley is going to be a great quarterback for us. He’s the guy right now, and the way our defense played this year was incredible. I’m really excited for the upcoming years.”
Dineen plays the 3 or the 4 for the Lawrence High School basketball team, but always has a tough adjustment period the first couple weeks out of football season.
“I’m a better defender. I usually guard their best or second-best player. The first couple weeks of practice, I just want to put the ball in my hand and run people over,” he said. “And then just trying to go in and get a rebound, instead of trying to avoid a guy, just go through his back. I know I can’t do that.”