Detroit Cass Tech product Damon Webb said in 2014 that he spent his final year of high school feeling like the bad guy. Fellow Technician Mike Weber’s 2015 recruitment was so contentious that he stayed away from the first day of the 2015 Sound Mind Sound Body camp that he attended as a high schooler.
Canton (Mich.) Plymouth four-star offensive tackle Michael Jordan, the first non-Cass Tech OSU commit from Michigan since Johnathan Hankins in 2010, hasn’t been immune to critics since committing to Ohio State on May 7. But his answer also revealed one of the reasons the Buckeyes were able to snag the nation’s No. 14 offensive tackle and No. 146 overall prospect.
“Some people talk to me about it. They call me a traitor and stuff like that, (say) ‘stay in your home state,’” Jordan said. “But I’m actually from Cincinnati, Ohio.”
That connection to the Queen City played a critical role in Jordan’s recruitment. Although Jordan was born in Cincinnati, he also lived in Charleston, S.C. before moving to Michigan a few years ago. That meant the appeal to stay home tactic trumpeted by Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher didn’t apply in this case.
Furthermore, the man recruiting Michigan for Ohio State, cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, happened to coach high school and college football in Cincinnati for decades before coming to Columbus to work with OSU head coach Urban Meyer. Jordan’s father, K. Michael Jordan, remembers watching his alma mater take some beatings from Coombs’ Colerain squads.
“Coach Coombs is from Cincinnati, so I was very familiar with him,” Jordan’s father said. “His teams used to beat my high school fairly often. I was very familiar with him, and we know a lot of the same people down there. He is a great relationship builder. He came to our school and really spent the time with our son’s coaching staff.
“For us to be 15 minutes from Michigan’s campus… every coach at my son’s school told me they’ve been around insincere coaches before, but they said that guy really gets it. He’s going to push you, but he’s going to make sure you get everything you need to be successful. That’s all you can really ask from a coach.”
Jordan knew from a young age that he wanted to play in either the Big Ten or the SEC, and he crafted a list before his junior year of high school that included a number of camps around the country. But without unlimited resources, he sat down with his parents and narrowed his camp trips to four spots – Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
The four-star offensive tackle said his decision to commit to Ohio State was a tough one, especially because it came down in part to deciding what fields he wanted to study in college. He settled on international business with a minor in Chinese, which he’s already taking in high school after previously taking Spanish in middle school.
“He wanted to make a change and thought Chinese would be a good way to go,” the elder Jordan said. “I work for a global accounting firm, so I know where business is going. You can’t deny two billion people, so you’re going to have to make that foray if you’re going to be internationally successful in this world. I think it was a great thing to do.”
Of the four aforementioned schools, Ohio State is the only one to offer a major in international business. Michigan State has an international business minor and Michigan offers global semester exchange programs, but neither grants degrees in the field. With Jordan’s parents both prioritizing academics, Ohio State still had to sell the quality of education, though. In that arena, the school succeeded.
“We felt very comfortable with Ohio State’s program,” Jordan’s father said. “We got to meet the president of the university. We met with people from admissions, people from the school of business. The only reason we didn’t talk to the guy with the China program is because he was leading an expedition over there, but they set up a meeting for that as well. They did an awesome job of making sure we were feeling comfortable academically. I think Coach Meyer knows my wife and I always stress education.”
Jordan’s parents thought he might wait longer to choose his college destination, but he told them in spring that he was ready to make his decision.
“He actually came to us and told us he wanted to decide and said, ‘Dad, I’m leaning toward Ohio State. I feel very comfortable there,’” Jordan’s father said. “He had some interest in other schools as well but felt most comfortable there, especially with the coaching from (offensive coordinator/OL coach) Ed Warinner. I think he wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way so he could spend this summer concentrating on getting better.”
Relationships and education put Ohio State over the top, and Jordan became a Buckeye.