"I thought I was just going up there for a normal junior day, just to see the facilities and meet the coaches a little bit and possibly talk to them a little bit," Dooley told Badger Nation. "I definitely wasn't expecting a scholarship offer."
Not many that follow recruiting were either, especially with the Badgers looking to take around 10 total recruits, one or two linebacker and had already extended offers to four-star backers Buddy Brown, Dorian O'Daniel and Tim Kimbrough.
When recruiting contact Chris Ash saw Dooley's junior tape on Thursday, however, the Badgers were seeing stars in the 6-2, 215-pound linebacker from Rochester (Ill) HS. Last season for Rochester, Dooley finished with 147 tackles at linebacker and 1,209 rushing yards, 598 receiving yards and 31 touchdowns as the team's running back, showing the versatility and athleticism that UW is looking for.
"I hadn't spoken to them until Thursday until my head coach told me to send my highlight tape to Coach Ash," said Dooley. "After I sent it to him, I heard back from him about an hour later, saying that he wanted me to come up this weekend. That was pretty much the only thing I had heard from them."
So when Dooley heard the words ‘scholarship offer' after being in touch with the Badgers for only 48 hours, he understandably almost fell off the balcony.
"When he called me into his office, I got pretty nervous because I was expecting something might happen," said Dooley. "When he said those words, I kind of got a vibe through my body and got so excited and ecstatic to hear that they said that."
The offer from Wisconsin has changed Dooley's entire mindset of his recruitment. Told by Bielema that schools are going to start evaluating him more now than he has a Badgers offer, Dooley recognizes that the offer might ‘spark the recruitment process' for him and ‘liven it up a little more.'
On the other hand, Dooley knows scholarships are at a premium, especially at the linebacker spot, and that may require a decision quicker than expected.
"I definitely want to be committed to a school before my senior year starts," said Dooley. "I don't want to have to deal with the stress. I want to live out my senior year and not have to worry about any of that. With Wisconsin, I do have to think about what I want and decide if that's right fit for me. If it's Wisconsin, I would have to decide semi early.
"I never thought of Wisconsin as a dream school but after seeing it, it's very, very nice. It's close to home – only 3.5 hours – and that's what I am looking for. I really like the city, the campus is really nice and the football team is awesome. The academics are really good, too, and I am looking for something like that. The school could be a good fit for me."
Dooley's next task is deciding whether he will go to Vanderbilt for a visit on March 24.