For starters he earned state-wide recognition, being named to the state's 4A first team after leading his team to a third straight state title. He also became a more complete football player – finishing his season with roughly 133 tackles, 1,456 rushing yards and 37 total touchdowns.
He also has started to take a closer look at his recruiting with the recent departure of Bret Bielema; a decision he wanted to avoid with his original plan to commit before his senior season.
"I've gotten that ‘Are you still committed to Wisconsin' question a lot," Dooley told Badger Nation after his official visit to Wisconsin this weekend. "I still am, but definitely was a shock that Coach Bielema was leaving. I had a good relationship with him, so it would have really been nice if he stayed. His leaving doesn't change my decision. Wisconsin is still my school. I still really want to go there."
Dooley – a three-star athlete ranked the No.20 middle linebacker in the country by Scout.com - initially sent his highlight tape to the pair prior to Wisconsin's junior day, which started his whirlwind recruiting process of having no contact with to being committed to Wisconsin in less than two weeks.
"My big concern was him (Bielema) taking other coaches with him, but I know it happens and it's all part of the process," said Dooley. ‘I have really grown to be a part of the Wisconsin team with coach Ash and coach Buh. Hopefully they stay. I am pretty confident I will stay. If they do leave, I will possibly keep my options open.
"The only way I will de-commit from Wisconsin is something drastically happens."
Originally committing to Wisconsin over offers from Illinois, Indiana, Northern Illinois and Vanderbilt, Dooley has heard a lot from Penn State and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, who wants to come for an in-home visit and get Dooley to come for an official visit.
"I really don't know if I'll take other visits and if I do it'll be to see what else is out there," said Dooley, who has only visited two schools during the recruiting process. "Penn State has a lot of history there that it would be nice to see, but I think I am pretty set.
"I've told schools that we can still keep in touch, but I am still committed and won't change unless something drastic happens."
Dooley doesn't see the drastic change after having an in-home visit with Buh on Thursday and hearing Wisconsin Athletic Director/Interim Coach Barry Alvarez answer all the recruits' questions over the weekend.
"When we got there, Coach Alvarez straight up said, ‘No matter what happens or who the coach is, it's still going to be Wisconsin football,'" said Dooley. "He said him and the coaches have put too much effort in making this program what it is and he's not going to let it go downhill because one head coach left. He said he was going to find the best coach out there and Wisconsin was going to stay as one of top dogs.
"It was a very reassuring weekend. I know a lot of people had questions and were wondering what the atmosphere was going to be like around the staff, but it was like nobody was left. Everything was the same, and they are still focused on trying to go out there to win the Rose Bowl."