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Dylan Gooden, son of Doc, finding passion on football field

Dylan Gooden, son of Doc, finding passion on football field
Dylan Gooden is currently the No. 3-ranked player in Maryland in the Class of 2023. (Courtesy: @DylanGooden4/Twitter)

OLNEY, Md. (BVM) – As Dylan Gooden cycled through youth athletics growing up, the one sport that always captured his attention wasn’t the one his dad had once dominated. For Gooden, starring on the football field has taken priority, as the son of former Cy Young pitcher, Dwight Gooden, put his time on the baseball diamond in the rear-view mirror.

Dylan, a junior at Our Lady Of Good Counsel High School (OLGC), has parlayed a standout football career into a busy recruiting season. However, for the 6-foot-4 defensive end, success on the field hasn’t always come right away on the field. Following the downtime left by COVID, Dylan entered his sophomore season looking to feature as a wide receiver on offense. During the spring period, he found himself on the outside looking in on the team’s depth chart.  

“He was doing pretty well but it wasn’t natural for him,” Falcons football coach Andy Stefanelli said. “He had to learn the playbook and get all the routes down and in the spring of 2021, he played in the exhibitions but he wasn’t a starter. I said, ‘I really think you should get some reps on defense.’”

Making the transition to the defensive side of the ball wasn’t initially something that the Falcons’ junior was ready to fully jump on board with. Following the two opening games of the season, Dylan decided to hear out his father who had talked with the OLGC coach about him giving it a go on the defensive line. Dwight, who tries to be more hands off when it comes to the sport, told Dylan to at least give the position a try as he continued to work at wide receiver.

“We did have a conversation that spring when he was playing wide receiver… and [his dad] and I were kind of on the same page with that,” Stefanelli said. “I think getting that little nudge from his dad kind of helped Dylan give it a shot.” 

After making the switch the following practice, it wouldn’t take long for Dylan to notice the impact he could make. In two games, he recorded four sacks, helping in an upset win over Baltimore St. Frances. The move not only caught the attention of his coaches, but it also had the Falcons’ junior top of mind for collegiate recruiters.  

“Once he had [those games]… there was no looking back,” Stefanelli said. “We thought it was going to be good but we didn’t know it was going to be good that fast but it was.”

The momentum for Dylan carried into his junior season where he was able to get a full year of playing time at the position. Along the way, he has picked up 20 offers from Division I schools, dropping a “Top 8” that includes Texas A&M, West Virginia, Maryland, Miami, Penn State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Tennessee. While the list was tweeted out to begin the year, the now-No. 3 player in the state has continued to pick up offers and recently scheduled a visit to Rutgers. 

 

 

As Dylan prepares for what the college level might look like, he got a solid introduction during his junior season at OLGC playing against some of the top players in the country. With a season to grow on, his coach knows just how great he can be, but says it’s going to be a constant process of getting there.

“He was challenged, but it helped him even in games when he maybe didn’t play his best,” Stefanelli said. “It made him better… That really helped him grow and we saw a lot of growth from him throughout the season.”

The process for Dylan has already started as Stefanelli says Dylan is focused on getting stronger while looking to build on his two seasons at the position. With the hope of dominating at the next level, Stefanelli has some advice for his standout junior.

“We talk to him about it,” Stefanelli said. “This doesn’t stop at high school. You are going to go on to college and continue to keep pushing yourself…. We [know] you’re already good. The goal [is] for you to be elite, for you to be great.”

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