The standout DE/OLB had to overcome family problems and a severe burning accident to become a likely Top 10 pick.
When Jordan was around 12, his father was long absent and his mother Sherrita was battling a crippling crack-cocaine addiction, preventing her from properly caring for her children. So, her sister Yative Tiger became the legal guardian for Jordan and his younger siblings, Michael and Sherrelle.
The traumatic experience could have been devastating for a youngster to face, but Jordan didn’t let it affect him.
“He was always a good kid, was good in school and never got into any fights,” said Tiger, who was also raising her two kids. “When he came to live with me, after his parents were having difficulties, he didn’t rebel or act out. He actually grew a lot.”
Football became an outlet for Jordan, and he was a star wide receiver/defensive end at Chandler High School (Ariz.), where he was mentored by former NFL TE Steve Jordan (no relation).
Jordan’s play impressed multiple college recruiters and he looked forward to receiving some good offers.
Then, in Oct. 2007, when he was a senior, Jordan’s friends were siphoning gas from a family car to another one with a vacuum and forgot to turn the machine off. He went to unplug it, but the cord sparked and flames engulfed him. Jordan’s body got severely burned, scorching 40 percent of his body.
Some doctors thought the Oregon Duck might not play football again, but the standout wouldn’t have any of that.
“Anytime you get into a situation where you feel like something is taken away from you, you start to value the little things in life,” said
Jordan, who has since completely healed from the accident. “I learned you first of all cannot take things for granted. Everything that you get is a blessing, so you have to understand where I was going before the accident. I had to understand that life wasn’t over and I was going to be OK, as long as I was persistent and taking advantage of the opportunities and blessings I am given.”
The 6-6, 248-pound athlete attacked his rehab with a passion. By doing everything the doctors told him, Jordan was able to compete well in track and field that spring.
“He exceeded the doctors’ expectations,” Tiger said. “They didn’t think he would ever play again, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I have never seen that determination in anyone else I know.”
Good came from that horrible experience. Jordan’s mother decided to go into drug rehab and has been clean ever since.
“Seeing how far she’s come, how much life she has given to my family, that’s inspired me to do better and trying to make the best of every situation,” Jordan said.
Jordan excelled at Oregon after switching from offense to play defense. He was a first-team all PAC-12 selection the last two years while collecting 12.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss.
The Butkus Award Finalist played through a right labrum tear sustained Oct. 27 against Colorado, but he said that he developed ”a high threshold for pain” and he had shoulder surgery in March so he could play his rookie season at full strength.
Jordan rigorously trained to gain muscle to be 250 at the Combine from his 230 playing weight, yet he fell short at 248. He did get impressive marks in the 40-yard dash (4.6), the vertical (32 inches) and broad jump (10-2).
He added he could play at 260 without losing his speed. Also, he said Jay Glazer and Chuck Lindell taught him MMA tactics about utilizing proper leverage to get past smaller players.
He hopes this training prepares him to excel in the NFL.
“I’ve been blessed and I’ve come a long way,” Jordan said.