The Legacy of Ty Jordan

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University of Utah Football freshman running-back Ty Jordan (#22) scores his first touchdown of the game in the Utes’ comeback win against Washington State University on Dec. 18, 2020 in Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Assistant Sports Editor

 

Nearly a week ago, the Utah Football family mourned as news broke involving the tragic passing of Utah running back Ty Jordan. The freshman phenomenon who had recently returned home for the holidays after a mesmerizing 2020 campaign for the Utes, was accidentally shot and died early Saturday morning.

As Utah fans everywhere continue to grieve in disbelief, we wanted to celebrate the life and legacy of a young man who so quickly captured the hearts of many.

Jordan is from Mesquite, Texas, less than 20 miles outside of Dallas, where he attended West Mesquite High School. During his senior year, Jordan had 572 yards on the ground and six touchdowns on 86 carries. Additionally, Jordan went for 480 yards receiving and four touchdowns on 48 receptions. He was named the Co-District 7-5A Offensive Player of the Year, a four-star recruit by ESPN, a three-star recruit by 247Sports and was rated the No. 8 all-purpose back in the country. Jordan initially had committed to Texas in September 2019, but after visiting the University of Utah in November, officially signed with the Utes a month later.

Tragically, as Jordan was preparing for his first season at the U, his mother passed away on Aug. 14, 2020, after a two-year battle with cancer.

Despite his mother’s recent passing, Jordan came to training camp ready to work. He would join a committee of running backs led by upperclassmen Devin Brumfield and Jordan Wilmore, and although he was heavily inexperienced compared to his teammates, Ty Jordan would eventually surpass each of them.

From the beginning, it was easy to see that Jordan was different. While the Utes would lose their first two games to USC and Washington, Jordan made the most of his touches as we went for 129 yards on 17 touches in his first two appearances. Fans were begging to see more of him as he would give 100% on every single play and was averaging over 7.5 yards a carry, something you don’t expect from a freshman back.

It wouldn’t be long before head coach Whittingham would give Jordan his shot. Against Oregon State, he was entrusted with the majority of the backfield responsibility as he went for 167 yards and his first career Utah touchdown on 27 carries. Utah would go on to defeat the Beavers 30-24, earning their first victory of the season.

Following the game, Whittingham would award the game ball to Jordan and his response was nothing short of extraordinary. Instead of taking the credit for himself, he shared the ball with the O-line and gave them credit for helping him to perform at such a high level.

Over the course of the next two games, Utah continually found themselves in deep holes as they trailed 21-10 against Colorado early in the third quarter and 28-7 against Washington State. Enter Ty Jordan, the freshman prodigy set the gridiron on fire as he led the Utes to comeback victories in both games.

Against Colorado, Jordan went for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. He could not be stopped as he zigged and zagged his way through the Colorado defense and was constantly finding his way through massive gaps. Jordan also recorded his career-long rush as the O-line parted the red sea, he side-stepped two tackles and took it 66 yards to the house. Utah would defeat the No. 21 Buffaloes 38-21, spoiling Colorado’s perfect season and a chance at claiming the Pac-12 South.

In what would be Jordan’s final game before his premature earthly departure, he left it all on the field. Utah faced what seemed to be an insurmountable deficit as they trailed 28-7 at halftime against Washington State. But Jordan didn’t quit, he kept pushing, kept fighting and had his best game of the season as he went for 151 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. His final touchdown was truly special as he found the small gap, side-stepped through a few tackles, spun through another and gave Utah the lead. A truly magnificent play illustrating just how special and talented he was. Utah would win the day as they scored 38 unanswered and defeated the Cougars 45-28.

While his on-field talent was clearly evident, so was his extraordinary character. Jordan often spoke of the importance of family, especially his mother, who he set out to make proud each and every game. After the Oregon State game and in response to a question regarding what it felt like to score his first career touchdown, his eyes lit up. He grinned ear to ear and finished with a reference to his mom.

“It felt amazing,” Jordan said. “I can’t explain it with words, it was just so amazing and so exhilarating. I grew up my whole life wanting and dreaming to be a college athlete, and now I’m here. I am experiencing my first couple of games, my first touchdown and so that was just amazing. I feel like I made my mom proud.”

With an overwhelming response to the tragic news of Jordan’s passing, it’s clear that he was beloved by many. Not only did he demonstrate elite athletic abilities on the field, but he taught us so many great traits and characteristics in a short amount of time. He taught us the importance of teamwork, perseverance, hard work, following your dreams and of course, family.

While we can only imagine what he would’ve achieved, we can all agree that Ty Jordan was a magnificent young man with elite athletic abilities and a positively infectious personality. Fly high No. 22, you will be missed, but never forgotten. #LLTJ

 

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