Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) four-star defensive tackle Ellison Jordan capped off his high school career in style.
Aside from a one-point season-opening loss, the only blemish on the Greyhounds’ record, the 6-foot, 270-pound fireplug helped lead his squad to 10 straight victories; an MIAA A-Conference title; a No. 1 state ranking; and a No. 12 national ranking. Individually, Jordan lived in opposing backfields, racking up 71 tackles; 19 tackles for loss; 17 sacks; one safety; two forced fumbles; and a one-yard touchdown run on offense. He finished with a school-record 52 career sacks, earned a spot in the Under Armour All-American game and will likely be named first-team all-state for the second consecutive year.
“This was a very special year for us. [Gilman coach Biff] Poggi told us this might have been the best team he’s ever coached,” said Jordan, who committed to Penn State back in June. “For me personally, I thought I had a good year as well. There’s always room for improvement, but I think I had a pretty good year rushing the passer and playing to my potential.”
Jordan does have one final game to play later this month, when he and the rest of the nation’s foremost talents head down to Orlando, Fla., for the UA All-American Game. Excited for one last go-around on a national stage, Jordan’s been working out and rehabbing his knee. He suffered a sprained MCL during the season and won’t be fully healed for another couple months.
“But I’m getting that knee ready to go, and I’ve been sprinting and running and everything like that,” Jordan said. “I can’t wait to play in the Under Armour game. That’s going to be a lot of fun.”
After that, Jordan said he’s set to sign with Penn State in February. He hasn’t wavered on his Nittany Lions’ pledge since committing in June, despite overtures from various other suitors.
“I’m firm to Penn State; that’s my school,” Jordan said. “It’s a great vibe up there, I love the coaching staff and I like what they’re doing up there. Their coaches came down to see me a couple weeks ago, and their area recruiter, Coach [Sean] Spencer, he’s my position coach. We have a really good relationship, and he was just talking to me about the SATs and giving me some tips on my stance and things like that. And Coach [James] Franklin, he’s a real cool guy and I have a great relationship with him too. Those guys talk to me on a daily basis.”
Jordan went on to say that he’s in close contact with several other 2016 PSU pledges as well. He specifically mentioned DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) defensive end Shane Simmons, Woodland Hills (Pittsburgh, Pa.) running back Miles Sanders and Exter Township (Reading, Pa.) tackle Mike Menet as recruits he’s in touch with.
“We’re all going down to the Under Armour game together and hopefully we’ll all be on the same team down there,” Jordan said. “We all talk about how excited we are to get up to Penn State.”
While Jordan insists he’s Happy Valley-bound, the four-star did take an unofficial visit to the school that finished second for his services. On Dec. 12, the Gilman product trekked over to College Park, Md., to meet Maryland’s new coaching staff, with D.J. Durkin at the helm.
“Basically Coach Poggi asked me to come down and meet the new staff, so I decided to go over and see what they were about,” Jordan said. “And I had a good time. I met Coach Durkin, I met [defensive line coach Mike] London, I met [defensive coordinator Scott] Shafer, and I saw Coach [Mike] Locksley and Coach [Chad] Wilt there too.
“There were a lot of official visitors there too like Lorenzo [Harrison], Terrance [Davis], D.J. [Turner], KeAndre [Jones] and Travon [Stott], and it was good to see those guys again. Those guys are my friends. So I appreciated Maryland having me up there and treating me well. It was fun, but like I said, it was just a little unofficial visit.”
Even so, Jordan had high compliments for Durkin, his staff and the Maryland program in general. He hadn’t met Durkin previously, but he knew London from when he was at UVA and Shaffer from when he was at Syracuse.
“With Coach Durkin, Coach Shafer and Coach London, they’ve got that defensive mindset. They’re going to be dangerous defensively with those coaches running the show,” Jordan said. “Coach Durkin had Michigan’s defense like, what, second in the nation? So to have a defense like that is going to be dangerous. They’re going to get after it there.
“I sat down with Coach Durkin, and we talked, and he’s a real good guy and very personable. I like his vision, I like how he’s trying to get the local guys to stay home, and I can tell he’s a great recruiter and defensive coach.
“And Coach London, I've known him since my sophomore year when I went down to UVA for a camp. He’s from Hampton (Va.), and his wife and his wife’s sister when to school with my mom. So they know each other real well. My dad is also from Hampton, and he knows Coach London from that too. It was pretty cool to find that out. I like Coach London and all those guys.”
But while Jordan enjoyed reconnecting with some other DMV talents and chatting with the Maryland staff, he said he’s not about to reconsider his commitment. Jordan insisted he won’t be officially visiting College Park in January and will take just one official to PSU Jan. 22-24.
“I respect the Maryland program and I believe they’re going to turn things around and do great things under Coach Durkin,” Jordan said. “But I’m with Penn State and I’m excited to get my career started there.”