Jason Dunn still looks like an NFL tight end — 6-foot-6, broad shoulders, thick chest and an athletic bearing that makes you think he could still pile-drive a linebacker.
But Dunn, who played in the NFL for 11 seasons, has traded in Sunday afternoons for Friday nights. He's in his first year as an assistant coach at Lafayette.
"It's the kids that brought me out here, and another chance to be around football," Dunn said. "It's a great atmosphere. Smelling the grass and dirt brings back memories of when I was part of high school football as a kid.
"This is where all your desires, goals and ambitions start."
Dunn, 36, has had a full football life since his days at Harrodsburg High.
He had a stellar college career at Eastern Kentucky, was a second-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1996, and played his last eight years (2000-07) with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Dunn probably could have hooked up with another team in 2008, but he decided his body had endured enough, and he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Dunn brings a wealth of knowledge to his new football gig, much of it gained from playing for outstanding coaches at every level, including Alvis Johnson at Harrodsburg, Roy Kidd at EKU, Ray Rhodes at Philadelphia and Dick Vermeil at Kansas City.
"I'm appreciative of everything they taught me — the importance of hard work, playing with passion and wanting to be a winner," said Dunn, a walking, talking example of maximizing potential.
Dunn was an outrageously gifted athlete — in college he weighed 275 and could run the 40 in 4.52 — but he didn't get by on talent alone.
"Probably the No. 1 thing I try to teach kids is, regardless of what they do, they need to work hard at it, be passionate about it, and be happy and have fun with it," he said.
The fact that Dunn played in the NFL so recently gives him instant credibility with high school players.
"The kids get an 'awe' feeling with him around," Lafayette Coach Carl Hayden said. "They focus up quicker when he tells them something because they know he knows what he's talking about."
Dunn had 11 touchdown catches in his NFL career, but he was primarily a blocking tight end. He uses that experience to tutor Lafayette's offensive line.
Generals sophomore Caleb Clemons first saw Dunn at a football camp last summer, and when he heard Dunn was joining Lafayette's staff, he was thrilled.
"I was like, 'Wow, that's amazing,'" Clemons said. "We all really look up to him and are learning a lot from him."
Dunn isn't sure what the future holds for him.
After the 2007 season, he took part in the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at Harvard Business School. Dunn described it as a "12-week crash course" in everything related to the business world.
"It was an unbelievable experience. I loved every bit of it," he said. "It opened up a whole different world to me about what I may do later."
Dunn is trying to give himself plenty of options.
When he's not coaching at Lafayette, he's taking classes at EKU so he can earn his teaching certificate.
"Right now I'm happy where I'm at," he said. "If it takes me to a different level, so be it. Coaching is coaching."
And football is football.
"NFL or high school, it doesn't matter; the juices always flow," Dunn said. "You still get the butterflies before the game. And when you walk out onto the field, with the excitement, the crowd and everything, I tell you, man, there's no feeling like it."