Free State QB Jet Dineen happy to make a name for himself after following talented trio of brothers

photo by: Chance Parker

Free State senior quarterback Jet Dineen throws the ball against Shawnee Mission Northwest Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.

From the time he first started playing youth football in Lawrence, Free State quarterback Jet Dineen was pegged as the best of the bunch among a talented group of brothers.

All three of the older Dineen boys — Joe, Jay and Jax — went on to play in the Big 12 Conference. And Jet has had a front-row seat to watch and learn from all of their successes and failures along the way.

“It’s been awesome,” Jet said before the start of the 2021 high school football season. “They’ve taught me so much and I’ve always looked up to them. Obviously, I’ve always wanted to be like them because they’ve all played at the next level.”

That may come for Jet, in time. But, for now, he is focused entirely on taking his game to the next level for the Firebirds, who opened the season with back-to-back victories after finishing 0-6 during the pandemic-plagued 2020 season.

Jet was the quarterback for that team, too. It was his first crack at playing the position at the varsity level. And it was a dream come true in many ways, even if the outcome each Friday night did not go as planned.

“Growing up, in youth football and middle school, I always knew that that was my goal, to play quarterback,” he said.

He learned some of the ins and outs of the position from Joe Dineen, who was a standout QB at Free State before going on to play running back and ultimately linebacker at KU and in NFL training camps.

Jay is a senior linebacker on the current KU squad and Jax is a junior fullback at Kansas State.

Despite their different positions, strengths and experiences, Jet said each one taught him valuable lessons about the game they all love.

“Joe just always tells me to stay even-keel through everything no matter what,” he said. “Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Jax is always just about hard work. And Jay’s honestly probably one of my best friends. He’s always there for me, telling me the good, telling me the bad and helping me out with whatever I need. He always has tips.”

The one thing that none of the brothers could help Jet with was the question he encountered while recently talking about his older siblings.

“The best of those three? I can’t answer that,” he said with a laugh.

If you asked any of the trio, they’d all probably say Jet had the most pure talent of the bunch. Truth be told, though, the entire family would probably lean toward naming Momma Dineen — former Lawrence High and KU volleyball standout Jodi Oelschlager — as the most talented athlete in their family.

But Jet doesn’t worry about anything that happened before he got his shot. He’s too focused and excited about the opportunity he has in front of him.

“I never think about it like big shoes to fill,” he said. “I mean, we don’t really worry about that at home. We joke about it, but that’s about it.”

Through two games this year — both blowout victories — Jet leads the Firebirds (2-0) in rushing (233 yards, 4 TDs and 9 yards per carry) and passing (260 yards with 6 TDs and just 1 interception).

Asked who he models his game after, the senior QB pointed to a couple of popular names who have played the position in recent years.

“I’d say someone like (Baltimore Ravens QB) Lamar Jackson, who is kind of quick on the run, and maybe (former Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner) Johnny Manziel at the college level,” he said. “Somebody like that who’s just always moving and is not just going to sit back there in the pocket but is going to try to make a play.”

Jet has made plenty of them for the Firebirds in his two seasons as the varsity QB. And it’s his mentality that makes all of them possible.

“I don’t like going out of bounds,” he said. “I try to get to the end zone, so whatever that takes. I’ll run you over, try and get past you, jump over you. Whatever I can do to try to get the extra yard.”

Up next for Jet and Free State is the test of all tests — Friday night at unbeaten Olathe North, which is ranked No. 2 in the 810 Varsity all classes weekly poll. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.


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