One Last Run In The Horseshoe

This was not the way things were supposed to turn out for the most prolific wide receiver to come from Massillon (Ohio) Washington. But rather than be upset, Devin Jordan has rolled with the hand he has been dealt and made the most of an otherwise frustrating time at Ohio State.

On Saturday afternoon, Devin Jordan will return to the site of one of his most painful memories. There, surrounded by 105,000 of his closest friends, he will run onto the field at Ohio Stadium, embrace head coach Jim Tressel and then run into the arms of his family.

It will be the culmination of a difficult Ohio State career that has not gone the way Jordan had intended but nevertheless has put him right where he wants to be.

After a high school career that saw him snag 152 passes for 2,511 yards and 31 touchdowns primarily as Justin Zwick's favorite target at Massillon (Ohio) Washington, Jordan joined OSU's class of 2003 with a reputation for being an explosive wide receiver.

First, he redshirted for the 2003 season. Then as a redshirt freshman, Jordan started to show flashes of potential before injuring his ankle and again missing a season.

But as a sophomore, it was all lining up for Jordan. After a solid spring that saw him play well in the team's annual Scarlet and Gray game, the 6-2, 205-pound split end was targeted as being ready for a breakout season in 2005.

Instead of breaking into the lineup, however, he broke his leg.

"I was on a really big high, thinking it was going to be a really great year," Jordan said. "The coaches were hyping me up, and I remember the next couple of days we were in practice and I was blocking for Antonio Pittman and Donte Whitner tackled him, they knocked me on my back and I broke my leg.

"I never really recovered from that."

The injury was classified as both a broken fibula and a dislocated ankle – in essence, two broken bones in his lower leg. When he arrived at the hospital, the doctors told him it was one of the five worst injuries in OSU history.

From there, Jordan began the long, slow path to recovery. But on the way back to suiting up for the Scarlet and Gray, Jordan came to a realization: His career was over. The final straw came in the spring of 2006, when Jordan started thinking about the future he wanted to have.

Tired of suffering through good days and bad days, Jordan sat down with OSU wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell.

"His body is beat up to where he can't do it anymore and he realizes that," Hazell said of the conversation. "The best thing for his body long-term is to go on the other side."

In this case, the "other side" Hazell referred to is coaching. Having studied the position for three full years, Jordan shifted his role from that of a student to that of a teacher.

When the wide receivers are in their meeting room, Jordan will help the younger wideouts such as Dane Sanzenbacher and Taurian Washington when Hazell quickly goes over topics. On the field, he will take half the wideouts and put them through drills so Hazell is not solely tasked with supervising 14 players at once.

"He's done a great job," Hazell said. "He takes so much pressure off of me in helping some of those young kids come along. That's his contribution to the program and he's done a phenomenal job."

In addition to some of the team's younger members, Jordan said he takes extra pride in seeing Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie enjoy the success that have experienced this season.

It has not all been easy for Jordan to adapt to being on the sidelines, but he said seeing his friends have success has made it easier.

"The first stage is going to practice and knowing you're not a player anymore," he said. "What really hurt was the first game, knowing that you're not suiting up, you're not playing. That really hurt. It's all about your character. It was a hard transition, but for me to see others benefit from me helping them it helped me feel better."

Fully pain-free, Jordan will run onto the field one last time for senior day against Illinois on Saturday. If all goes well, he will be able to do so for the team's future reunions – thanks to his decision to hang up his cleats when he did.

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