Tim Jordan made news Monday by verbally committing to the Tennessee Volunteers.
The quick-twitch running back was an unknown to many through the first three years of his prep career. The coaching staff at Western Kentucky was the first to express legit interest in Jordan and that group maintained pursuit of Jordan even when it departed to work at Purdue.
Tennessee’s interest churned up a notch when it offered the first week of December. Running backs coach Robert Gillespie moved quick to express legitimacy to the offer and Jordan soon decommitted from the Hilltoppers.
To get a feel for the future Volunteer, second-year head coach at Bartow (Fla.) High School Jake McCrae gave a complete scouting report.
“If you watch that film, I mean, you see…you’ve got to understand that we have one of the hardest schedules in the state Florida, too,” McCrae said. “All those teams are the real deal that we’re playing against.”
Bartow finished 4-5 after competing in FHSAA Class 7A District 7 alongside the likes of Lakeland (reached second round of 7A state playoffs) and Kathleen. On the non-district schedule were talented squads such as Bishop Moore (reached 5A state quarterfinals, 2015 5A state champion) and Osceola (qualified for 8A state playoffs, 2015 8A state runner-up).
As a senior, Jordan ran for around 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns en route to All-County honors from The Ledger. He picked the Big Orange over the likes of North Carolina and Purdue.
“We knew coming into the season that Tim was awesome,” McCrae said. “You guys (Tennessee) got really a bargain. He came in so far under the radar and the reason why was I put Tim off in the spring because we was doing all the basketball stuff. I was trying to motivate him a little bit. I said, ‘Why don’t you just focus on basketball?’ It wasn’t any behavior or any type of problems. I was just trying to get him refocused. So he missed a couple first days of spring and the recruiting aspect of it. So he really…and not to mention his junior year he came out and he was second string. So he didn’t really get too much in (games) because our senior running back (Troy Jones) was really good, broke his ribs. So he popped when that kid broke his ribs and Timmy got in there and really went off for the second half of his junior year. So we knew exactly what we had coming back with Timmy.”
Bartow didn’t reach the postseason but that wasn’t because of any failures by Jordan.
“On the field, he just went crazy,” McCrae said. “Week 2 he had 339 yards in a game. You were never dead on any play with Timmy in terms of a D-lineman gets in the backfield or stopping a play for a loss. He was always able to make me look pretty good by getting us out of some predicaments.
“I think it was only one game (versus Lakeland) he ran for under 100 (yards).”
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Jordan did what he had to do to help the Yellow Jackets, logging time at cornerback and returned some kicks but sometimes didn’t because coaches wanted his energy on the first play of the game.
“He did everything we asked of him,” said McCrae, who played at the University of New Haven under now-Massachusetts coach Mark Whippleand former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano.
The runner didn’t have much trouble separating from Sunshine State defenders on the prep level, however, doing the same against Southeastern Conference defensive backs isn’t quite the same.
“He’s not terrible breakaway speed,” McCrae said. “He does pull away from most guys. You see him on film. He’s got that phone booth speed to where he has 4-5 around him and comes square and out of there untouched.”
Moxie is an intangible that coaches on all levels seek. Jordan seems to have it.
“Timmy is an alpha male,” McCrae said. “He’s not a ‘ra-ra’ guy. He’s definitely a lead-by-example guy. He has a motor on him. In practice he was always wanting to play scout team to get our defense better.
“To give you an example, we’d run a quick-screen to a receiver. I’d say, ‘Alright, Timmy, your job is to go opposite of the quick screen to hold that MIKE linebacker because they’re going to chase you.’ I’d look over and he’d be out there blocking the corner because he wanted to go block somebody. ‘Coach, I just want to hit somebody.’ He’s that kind of kid. He’s constantly wanting to help, constantly wanting to mix it up. You can see on his tape his blocking. You can see him getting physical and finishing his runs. In that respect, he’s exactly what coaches are going to love to have. Practice guy, he’s going to keep everybody going, keep everybody up, and he’s going to lead the charge as far as tempo and physicality go. He’s going to fit right in to that mental aspect of it.”
Rock Gullickson is Tennessee’s new strength and conditioning director. The veteran of the weights could help Jordan vastly improve.
“I think (Jordan) needs to work to continue strengthening his legs, go from basketball legs to football legs,” Bartow High’s coach said. “I really do think he’s ahead of the game more than most of the kids I send out because of that work ethic he’s got. He’s got to pack his frame more lower body.
“He’s very physically fit. Basketball player. He practiced the whole time. A lot of guys, when they’re not on, they don’t want to play scout. He wants to scout, he wants to return kicks. He wants to do everything. So his motor is going to serve him well on the next level.”
McCrae estimates Jordan to have a 3.5 grade point average and a qualifying ACT score.