LOGAN — As a future engineer, USU senior linebacker Jake Doughty has learned a lot about teamwork. As he has prepared for his impending career, he has figured out how to effectively communicate his plans and ideas to complete projects in an effective and timely manner.
Those skills, though used in the classroom setting, have proven to be powerful in other aspects of Doughty’s life. The senior has found ways to implement these traits on a daily basis on the football field at Utah State.
“It isn’t just a solo act,” he said. “You work with all these other people to put your strengths and weaknesses together to make a design of some sort.”
In the case of Aggie football, that design is a perfectly executed play. It is stopping the other team’s offense from scoring its next touchdown. It is a big tackle, an interception or preventing the opponent from converting on a third down.
So far, that design team has worked pretty well for Utah State.
Doughty said he's just grateful to be a part of it. Any conversation with him reveals his selflessness and his simple desire to help his team be successful. The personal credit and attention is not what it’s about for him.
“My role is to do whatever my team needs me to do,” Doughty said. “I don’t care about personal accolades or anything like that. I don’t have individual goals. I just want to help this team win. I want a Mountain West Championship and to go to and win a bowl game just as our team goals say.”
He means it, too. The Salt Lake City native is willing to do whatever it takes and whatever will be most beneficial for the team if it means seeing a win.
“Whether it’s from the bench or as a scout guy getting hit around in practice, I don’t care as long as my team wins,” Doughty said. “That’s what I’m here to do.”
Luckily for him and Aggie fans everywhere, he is more than a guy on the bench or the scout squad. Doughty has helped lead the Utah State defense to wins, close calls and a record-breaking season.
This year’s senior class has seen a lot in its time at Utah State. Many of the players started their Aggie careers in 2009, a season that resulted in four wins. Just three years later, the team ended the year with a school-record 11 wins, including a Western Athletic Conference Championship and the second-ever bowl win in school history.
“We had kind of a slow start when I got up here, going 4-8, which isn’t very good," Doughty said. "Now the program is turning around and people are jumping on board and it’s getting better. It feels great. It’s nice to know you’re part of something that mattered. I was a part of getting Utah State on the map. It’s good to know I contributed in some way.”
In high school though, Doughty didn’t think he would end up where he is now. Up through his senior year, he wasn’t recruited by any Division I programs. Former Utah State head coach Gary Andersen saw Doughty play at Juan Diego High School with his son, Keegan, and brought him along for his inaugural season at Utah State.
“It feels great to be a part of Utah State,” Doughty said.
As the program has turned around and developed into more than just a small-town name, Doughty said it isn’t that the personnel has changed but the attitude among the personnel.
“We’ve always had good athletes, but the mentality wasn’t the best. All the guys now expect to win every week,” he said. “We train harder and we do more. We know that if we get into a close game that we can pull it out and win.”
As the team progresses and continues to show who they are and what they can do, Doughty becomes more and more driven by his desire to succeed and win.
But almost more than the need to win is his need to not lose. While those may appear to be the same thing to anyone else, there is a difference between the two in Doughty’s mind.
His contributions have not gone unnoticed. Since 2010, he has seen action in every game, including starting each of his last 18 games. Last season, he earned first-team all-WAC honors after leading the team and being second in the league with 109 tackles on the year.
His efforts helped lead the team to an 11-2 record, a top 20 national ranking and a conference championship — all things that hadn’t been accomplished at Utah State in a very long time or ever.
“From that Hawai’i game when quarterback Chuckie (Keeton) got hurt to completely turning this program around to the Louisiana Tech game last year has felt great,” Doughty said. “Knowing that we were the last football champions the WAC ever had was a good feeling.
“I hate losing. I hate losing more than anything. The fear of failure is what motivates me. I don’t like losing in anything, let alone in things I really care about. Winning is great and everything, but it’s the fear and hatred of losing. When you win, it means something, but when you lose, that’s when it really gets to you and grinds your gears.”
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Doughty will graduate next May with a degree in mechanical engineering, a tough major to pursue for anyone, let alone for someone with such significant extracurricular activities like being a student-athlete. He has taken on the challenge successfully and learned a lot from it as he prepares to finish college and take on the real world.
“It teaches you to work well as a team and with other people. It teaches you to never give up,” he said. “When stuff gets hard, you can’t stop. Whatever you work for, it will pay off in the end.”
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University Athletic Media Relations.