Jay Harper and Cam Dooley sign to play at the next level

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, December 20, 2023

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It was a huge day at Valley High School as two of the school’s shining stars signed to play football at the next level. Three-star prospect Jay Harper signed to play with Wisconsin, and four-star prospect Cam Dooley signed to play for Kentucky.

For Harper, the decision was simple. Harper verbally committed to Wisconsin on June 19. Since then, he has never wavered on that decision. 

“I chose Wisconsin [because] they have a great coaching staff, and they developed corners at the University of Cincinnati,” Harper said. “They come from there, they developed Sauce Gardner. I just felt like that was a place I could go and call home.” 

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The decision for Dooley was less simple. Dooley de-committed from Missouri on Oct.31, and his future plans were unknown until he signed on Wednesday. 

“The bond I had with the coaches and the players, the first day I stepped on campus, they made me and my family feel at home,” Dooley said. “When I committed to Missouri, they were still texting and calling me all the time. I just felt like that was the place I had to be.” 

Both Harper and Dooley have been dynamic athletes at Valley High School. Dooley started as a quarterback and safety while Harper was a starting cornerback and wide receiver. 

Dooley and Harper will both be transitioning to playing only on the defensive side at their respective schools. 

This opportunity did not come overnight for either player. There were long days and nights on the field and in the weight room, but both Harper and Dooley are excited to make plays at the next level. 

“Just contributing, getting on the field, just making big-time plays in front of some amazing fans,” Harper said about his excitement to play at the next level. 

“Looking forward to developing, becoming a man and becoming the best Cam I can be,” Dooley said about playing at the next level. 

Dooley and Harper will soon be dawning new colors as they transition to becoming college athletes, but the two will always bleed orange and blue. Both Harper and Dooley have been at Valley throughout high school and junior high. The school and community have had a large impact on them, and Harper and Dooley have had a large impact on the Valley community. 

“My teammates, the coaches, the environment, the people, everything,” Dooley said about what he would miss about Valley. “Next year, I won’t be under coach [Marshon] Harper anymore. I’ve been with him since the fourth grade, so it’ll be different.” 

“Just the family side of it,” Harper said about what he would miss. “We were a brotherhood around here in Valley. I’ll just miss playing with my brothers.” 

Both Harper and Dooley have put in the work to get this opportunity. The two spend all their off time in a gym or on a field. That work along with an incredible support staff of family and coaches has led to the two becoming some of the best athletes in Alabama.

“We put in lots of work,” Dooley said. “Coach [Adam] Hunter, Coach Harper, all my coaches, we worked hard. I feel like it’s going to transfer to the next level.” 

Harper and Dooley are not only some of the best talent that the state has to offer, but the two are also lifelong friends. 

Harper and Dooley have spent years playing beside each other on the football field and basketball court, and it felt only right for the two to share this moment as well. 

“I get to sign with my brother, two of the best people in the nation,” Harper said. 

“We’ve been playing together since we were kids,” Dooley said. “We dreamed about this day right here. I’m very proud of him. I’m going to be proud of him at the next level too.” 

Harper and Dooley are the third athletes to sign to play for a Division I school during the current school year as Jackson Sanders signed to play baseball at Auburn earlier this fall. 

Now, those three athletes are going to act as models for other athletes at Valley High School who have dreams of playing at the next level. 

“Just wait your turn,” Harper said. “Everything is going to happen for a reason. Keep God first and go where you’re needed.” 

“Keep working hard,” Dooley said. “Believe in your work, listen to the coaches and believe in God because it’s going to come.” 

Harper’s parents, Marshon and Jemeka Harper, were also a major part of both his and Dooley’s journeys to the next level. 

Marshon Harper is the head basketball coach at Valley High School and Jameka Harper is a teacher at Callaway. Both Marshon and Jameka have dreamed of their son getting an opportunity like this. 

“To me, it means a lot,” Jameka Harper said. “Not only is he going academically, but he’s always wanted to play collegiate football, and to have the opportunity to do that in the Big Ten under coach [Luke] Fickell, it’s amazing.” 

“I could always see it in him,” Marshon Harper said. “As a parent, I knew I had to just get it out of him. He never complained about me getting him up early in the morning. I know we put on probably 20-30 pounds during Covid. Getting up every single day, she cooks and feeds us. It paid off.” 

Dooley and Harper had several schools that they could have gone to. Dooley had offers from Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin and many more. Harper held offers from Kentucky, Georgia Tech and several other schools. In the end, the two made the decision they felt was right for their futures.