Scouting Report: Jordan Pendleton

Moving from safety to field linebacker, 6-foot-2-inch, 228-pound Jordan Pendleton brings immediate size and athleticism to the position. Pendleton talks about the switch and how he's adjusting to being the Cougar defense's newest outside linebacker.

As a high school senior, Jordan Pendleton was Utah's 5A Most Valuable Player, an honor reserved for the best football athlete in the state. Now Pendleton takes his athleticism, which he used to rack up 40 receptions for 699 yards and 11 touchdowns as well as 89 tackles and five interceptions, to the outside linebacker spot.

"It's going good," Pendleton said. "It's been kind of different for me because I've never really played that position before, so it's kind of different rushing the quarterback and doing other things I've never done before that the position requires. It's been good though."

There are obvious fundamental differences between playing safety position and playing outside linebacker, but there is one particular aspect of playing both positions that is the same.

"All the coverage stuff is basically the same with the strong safety," Pendleton said. "So that's good because I already know that having played strong safety, so in that sense I don't have to learn that part of the position. I think one of my strengths will be coverages."

However, playing outside linebacker on the field side requires more than just covering tight ends or receivers in the flats. The dynamics the position requires are a little more extensive.

"What's mainly different for me is reading my keys and just taking it one step at a time," Pendleton said. "For example, if I'm reading the tight end and I look in the backfield, then he's got me and I have no way of getting off of him. It's the same way with the [offensive] guard, but the main thing that is different is learning to play with my hands more, using technique to get guys off of me and going up against o-linemen, because I've never been down on the line this far before. I'm used to just sitting back and [doing] whatever is needed to make the play. As far as being on the line with all of the run responsibilities, on top of all the coverage responsibilities and rushing responsibilities, I just need to get my technique down and use my hands."

One aspect about playing outside linebacker that Pendleton enjoys is rushing the quarterback. During practice on Tuesday, Pendleton recorded a sack. It's something he's never done before but looks forward to doing in a game-time situation if called upon.

"I think rushing off the end will be fun for me and I've never done that before," said Pendleton. "I don't think I've ever sacked a quarterback before. We have a good o-line, so it's good to practice against them. So some of this stuff is just all new to me, so that part I'm working to get better at because I know it's an important part of playing the position."

One of the outside linebackers has taken Pendleton under his wing and has helped him to gain a better and quicker understanding of what it required to play the position.

"I like our linebackers and they are good guys," said Pendleton. "I enjoy working with them, so it's been good. Me and Coleby Clawson have been getting together a lot and he's been helping me to learn more of the ropes. We go over some things and that has helped me out a lot."

Coach Mendenhall has mentioned in years past that he wants his 11 best players on the field. With strong safety Shiloah Te'o showing great promise, the move by Pendleton to outside linebacker - an area in need of more depth - is a natural one due to his size and athleticism. So far, Pendleton is pleased with the switch he's made.

"So far I'm liking the position change," he said. "I feel once I know exactly what I'm doing where I can just play the position naturally without thinking too much about it, then it will be a lot better for me. Right now I'm having to read and react rather than let things come natural to me."


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