Louisiana assistant coach D.J. Looney, 31, dies after suffering heart attack at team workout

Sam Cooper
·4-min read
ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 15: A general view of a Louisiana Ragin Cajuns helmet during the game between the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns and the Tulane Green Wave on December 15, 2018 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Louisiana assistant D.J. Looney died after suffering a heart attack Saturday morning. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

D.J. Looney, an assistant coach for the University of Louisiana football team, died Saturday morning after suffering a heart attack at a team workout at Cajun Field in Lafayette.

According to Sports Illustrated, Looney was pronounced dead after being transported to a local hospital. He was 31 years old.

“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,” the Louisiana athletic department said in a statement.

Looney was entering his third season on the UL football staff working with the Ragin’ Cajuns’ offensive line. Looney helped develop two UL linemen — Robert Hunt and Kevin Dotson — into NFL draft picks. Hunt was chosen No. 39 overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 draft while Dotson went in the fourth round (No. 135 overall) to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Before his time at Louisiana, Looney served as a tight ends coach at Mississippi State, where he played offensive line from 2007 to 2010. He got his coaching start as a graduate assistant for Dan Mullen at MSU in 2011.

"The entire Mississippi State Family is deeply saddened and heartbroken by the loss of one of our very own in D.J. Looney. D.J. was an outstanding student-athlete and coach and an even better person. He had such a positive personality, attitude and always a smile on his face,” MSU athletic director John Cohen said in a statement. “D.J. will be remembered and missed by all who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with D.J., his family, his friends, his former teammates, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Mississippi State.”

After his time at MSU, Looney was the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at East Mississippi Community College, spent two seasons coaching tackles and tight ends at Central Arkansas and had a stint as a graduate assistant at Georgia.

After the news of Looney’s death emerged, tributes poured in from colleagues, teammates and players on social media.

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