When most college kids are going to the beach in between classes, escaping to warm weather and sandy beaches, Jarret Doege is booking a hotel room in New Jersey. Tony Racioppi, a former All-American quarterback at Rowan University, is the quarterback’s coach for TEST Football Academy in Martinsville, New Jersey. He’s worked with Doege for the past three years, watching him grow as a football player the whole way.
When Doege gets some free time, whether that’s in the middle of the winter or in the peak of summer, he’ll find the time to book a hotel in New Jersey and spend four or five days perfecting his craft with Racioppi.
Yeah, the work put in when an athlete is grinding with their trainers is important. The coaching, having that watchful eye to help critique and correct the minor details is important, but what about when those sessions are over? What about when Doege isn’t busting his tail with Racioppi? When Doege isn’t spending hours working with him, he’s spending hours perfecting his game on his own, Racioppi isn’t worried about that.
“[Doege is] a kid that can come up for four or five days, and we’ll talk about what we need to work on and he’ll go back and do it,” Racioppi told West Virginia Sports Now. “Sometimes I’ll get guys up here that will work hard with me for four days but are they really working on what we talked about? He’s a kid who’s locked in at all times.”
Doege hasn’t been in New Jersey over this past weekend, but he has been in Thibodaux, Lousiana — just working out with Peyton and Eli Manning at the Manning Passing Academy on Nicholls State University’s campus.
“[Doege] was one of 40 college camp counselors invited to come, it’s all of the top kids in the country,” Racioppi said. “They’ll coach middle school and high school-aged kids during the day as counselors and then they’ll throw three times with Eli and Peyton — I’m one of the coaches myself.”
If you’re invited to the Manning Academy, you’re someone. In 2019, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Jordan Love and countless other superstar quarterbacks — along with Doege — were in attendance. Doege was once again in attendance in 2021, and this time, Racioppi saw the strides he’s taken over the three years they’ve worked together.
“I think he did fantastic,” Racioppi said. “I mean, he throws a gorgeous football. I’ve worked with him for the last three years, so he’s my guy. He’s gotten so much better over the last three years. He was always a good player, but I think West Virginia fans are going to see a bigger, stronger version. His arm has definitely gotten stronger; he’s always thrown a really nice football, thrown a tight spiral, but you’re going to see a next level velocity-wise.”
At the camp, Doege impressed with his anticipation, accuracy and velocity — three areas he’s worked on relentlessly with Racioppi over the offseason.
West Virginia QB Jarrett Doege working Gun Play Action 3 and Jump Stop Reset throwing 18yd Comeback to left with anticipation, accuracy and velocity. Not many and college football can throw a tighter ball then Jarrett. @TEST_Football @DoegeJarret @WVUfootball @NealBrown_WVU #qb pic.twitter.com/v8MlsT19Sy
— Tony Racioppi (@Tonyrazz03) July 18, 2021
Over the weekend, those in attendance, campers and counselors alike, competed in drills, skills events, working on routes with wide receivers and more. It was a laidback atmosphere, just playfully competing over who could outthrow the other and having fun. It just so happens that quite a few NFL coaches and executives were in attendance.
“There were a lot of NFL guys there, just watching and checking people out,” Racioppi said. “A lot of the NFL guys come because they bring their kids. You’ll have NFL head coaches because their kid’s a quarterback and they bring them to camp.”
In addition to getting to spend time with Peyton and Eli, along with exposure to NFL guys, Racioppi said it was just a cool experience for the college guys. Getting to learn the secrets of the trade from high-level NFL quarterbacks like Peyton and Eli is something not many can boast about.
The ability Doege flashed over a couple of days at Nicholls State, along with the experience in working the camp, leads Racioppi to believe WVU fans will see an all-new quarterback in Blue and Gold this season.
“I think it’s a combination of he’s hitting the weight room hard, he’s always been a hard worker, and just mechanics,” Racioppi said. “Between WVU’s staff that does a great job and obviously coming up here with me as much as he can and focusing on certain fundamentals, just a little more accuracy and a little more velocity on the football — that’s what we’re chasing.”
Racioppi has known WVU head coach Neal Brown for years, praising the program Brown has already built in Morgantown, and he feels like the WVU coaching staff has Doege set up for success this season. Doege’s own preparation comes from continuing to work on his mechanics.
Having always possessed the strong mechanics required for Power Five football, Racioppi said there’s always room for improvement. If Tom Brady and Drew Brees can continue perfecting their own mechanics into their 40s, everyone can continue working on their own. Doege, Racioppi said, is someone who chases perfection. He’ll never be perfect, no one is, but he’ll constantly strive for it.
At the end of the day, Doege is simply excited to get back on the field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Racioppi said he loves WVU, the coaching staff, his teammates and where the program is heading. With continued consistency on his end and a few more catches from his receivers, he can take that needed step forward this season.
With a full, almost normal offseason (a complete 180 from the COVID-altered 2020 season), Racioppi feels like Doege is much more comfortable heading into this season. After transferring from Bowling Green before the 2019 season, coming in late to start for Austin Kendall, and then the most unpredictable season in the last century in 2020, Doege’s WVU career has been anything but conventional.
Still, through 14 games in Morgantown, Doege has thrown for 3,405 yards (64.4%) with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 6.9 yards per attempt isn’t flashy, but with an increased deep ball usage in 2021, that number could balloon.
Finally settled with WVU now, Racioppi hopes WVU fans — and those across college football — will finally see just how good of a player he is. And in the process, see just how high WVU can climb.
“My hope is they take the next level as a program and get those double-digit wins and get to a big-time bowl game,” Racioppi said. “The sky is the limit for him as a player. People don’t realize how good he is, how smart he is and how tough he is. I think people are gonna see that. I think you’re gonna see a kid who’s going to be one of the better players in the Big 12, let alone the country.”
Having watched Doege grow for a few years now, getting to see him compete with other high-caliber quarterback recruits at TEST, he’s seen the reaction to other high-caliber college players seeing just how good he can be.
“When he comes here, I’ll get other college guys as well as really good high school guys, and every time he throws the ball, everyone’s like, ‘whoa.’ It’s just kind of putting it all together,” Racioppi said.
Racioppi fully expects a huge year from Doege, and it’s going to take more consistent play from WVU wide receivers, but with improvement from redshirt-junior Sam James and junior Winston Wright, Jr and the addition of highly regarded Kaden Prather, WVU’s offense could be in for a big jump in production — especially with senior running back Leddie Brown in the backfield.
With a big season, the NFL door could open for Doege, too. And Racioppi believes he’s got the right tools to succeed in the NFL.
“I always put these guys into two categories,” Racioppi said. “They weren’t great quarterbacks in college, but they have all the traits. They’re big, strong, fast, have cannons for arms and on film, you’re like, ‘ahh, I don’t know.’ Then you see the guys who are really good quarterbacks, but they might not throw the ball 75 yards and might not knock you over with their arm strength. But they’re just good players, and those guys stay in the league for a long time.”
Racioppi believes Doege has all the traits to play in today’s NFL. “He’s smart, he’s tough and processes information quick,” Racioppi said. “He’s a football kid, his brother was a big-time player and now a coach at USC, his dad was a coach. He’s a Texas kid. It’s kind of who he is.”
While Doege may be primed for a true breakout season, this will be his last in Morgantown. He could, however, be a link to a potential quarterback of the future. WVU has made waves this season with the commitment of 4-star Arizona quarterback Nicco Marchiol, along with having regarded quarterbacks Will Crowder and Garrett Greene on the roster, but a 2023 name could feature at some point.
At the Hun School in Princeton, New Jersey, four-star quarterback recruit Marco Lainez III is the 279th-ranked recruit in the class. He’s the 17th-ranked QB and fourth-best recruit from New Jersey, and with Racioppi as his QB coach, he’s formed a sort of “big brother, little brother relationship” with Doege.
With an offer from WVU already, the Racioppi connection continues to loom large for WVU.