Zack Papenberg

Jordan prepares to take aim at NFL dream

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Zack Papenberg
Mike Jordan

For many college students with only one semester to go before graduation, the dreaded ‘senioritis’ is kicking in right about now.
You don’t want to do anything you’ve been grinding now your whole college career and now you just want to finish out with a nice, laid-back, easy semester before embarking on a career.
For most, that is an option and one many will take advantage of. Not for Mike Jordan though.
The former standout Griffon defensive back does have his eyes squarely focused on his career, however, and that career is a roster spot on one of the 32 National Football League franchises.
To accomplish such a lofty goal, Jordan will spend his final semester as a Missouri Western student — he has an internship which he plans on completing in the spring to finish up his Sport Management degree — working harder than he ever has.
While the classes will be beginning again for Jordan and all other Griffon students on Tuesday, Jan. 19, Jordan will be in St. Petersburg, Fla., practicing in front of NFL scouts and preparing for the biggest job interview of his career.
The East-West Shrine Game — to which Jordan has accepted an invitation to play in — is held on Saturday, Jan. 23 in St. Petersburg and is on of the premier collegiate all-star games for draft eligible players.
“It is a big deal,” Jordan said. “Everybody knows that it is a well-known game. It has been around for over 90 years. It definitely has its credentials and everyone knows about it. Statistically speaking there are a lot of scouts there.”
Jordan also received an invitation to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl,, but turned that opportunity down because it fell on the same day as the Shrine Bowl.
The opportunity to show what he can do against other potential draftees is huge for any Division-II player. Jordan is one of only two Division-II players to receive an invite to the game. The other is Grand Valley State defensive end Matthew Judon.
“It is humbling,” Jordan said. “To be recognized on such a big stage is just a testament to your hard work and I’ve definitely over my 5 years (at Western) have worked my tail off.”
The Griffons have had two former players appear in the East-West Shrine Game with Greg Zuerlein in 2012 and David Bass in 2013. Both of those players are still playing in the NFL and Bass, along with former Griffon and NFL running back Mike Hill, specifically has become a very important mentor for Jordan during his pre-draft process.
“Both (David) and Mike have helped me in terms of decision-making and just telling me not to rush my decisions and telling me that the decision I’m making is the right one for me and I’m not making it based on what anyone else says or how someone else feels.
“They mainly tell me to be comfortable in what I do and I feel like thats a big deal to have those guys who have been through the process. They look at me as a little brother so of course they are willing to help me as much as they can.”
Bass and Hill were seniors while Jordan was a freshman on the Griffons 2012 national quarterfinalist team.
In addition to Bass and Hill, who was also a senior on that 2012 Griffon team, Jordan does not have to look far to find another sounding board for how this process works. His brother Reggie Jordan continued his career after graduating from Western in 2013 with a brief stint in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“(Reggie) has been a huge help,” Mike said. “I’ve talked to him on multiple occasions about the whole process and what to expect and look for.
“That is my best friend, he is like my right-hand man so whatever he says I listen to him because he’s been through it.”
After Jacksonville, Reggie spent some time playing professionally in the Canadian Football League.
The Griffon coaching staff also has had a huge impact on him, especially his position coach Regi Trotter.
“Coach Trotter is my main guy as far as somebody I can go talk to,” Jordan said. “He’s definitely that guy that if I need to call somebody for advice or ask him how I should handle something, he’s always there for just like he has been at any time in my career.”
For Mike, there is a lot of key decisions that must come before he even sets foot on a Shrine Game practice field.
“Right now it is pretty hectic with finishing up school and finals, deciding on an agent, deciding where I’m going to train and how I’m going to train,” Jordan said. “It is a lot to think about right now, but its a long process and an exciting process.”
He must first decide on where he will be training for the Shrine Bowl and other pre-draft activities. Shortly after he finishes up his fall semester classes, Jordan will head to a training facility where he will likely be joined by other draft hopefuls as they prepare for their future.
For now though, Jordan prefers to train in solitude in the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex weight room, where under the supervision of Griffon Strength and Conditioning Coach Greg Carbin he has spent so much of his time as a Griffon.
Jordan heads down to the GISC three times a week and is mainly focused on cardiovascular work and maintaining his body after just wrapping up his senior season.
“He’s been going hard since last January,” Carbin said. “He is two weeks removed from football season now, so he’s been going hard for awhile now. So now its just time for him to get his bod back.”
After choosing a training location, Jordan will turn his attention to selecting an agent to represent him.
“It is a lot like the recruiting process,” Jordan said. “You have to sit the guys down and figure out who has the best interest for you and who you have the best vibe with and comfortability and who your parents like. It is a process, but its fun though.”
Also later this month, he hopes to receive an invitation to the NFL’s Scouting Combine. If granted the opportunity to participate in the combine, Jordan would be able to go through drills and have his measurables compared to the elite prospects in the 2016 draft class.
The combine is a week-long event running for February 23-29.
All this work leads to the NFL Draft which is held April 28 through May 1 in Chicago, Illinois where Jordan hopes to be selected by an NFL franchise.
“That would be an amazing feeling,” Jordan said. “That is the goal. To hear my name called in the draft would be surreal and that is what I am working for.”

Why the Shrine Game?
Mike Jordan had a couple of options when it came down to selecting which collegiate all-star game to attend.
He wound up choosing the East-West Shrine Game, in large part due to the impact that the game has for the community.
“It is a great opportunity to give back,” Jordan said. “Doing my research, (the players) go to the Shriners Hospital and those kids are really (sick) so from what I have heard they really enjoy us being there and they look up to the football players… So of course I would love that opportunity to give back to the youth.”
The slogan for the Shrine Game is: ‘More than just a game.’ That message is driven home by the way the game supports children in need.
The Shriners Hospitals for Children list their mission as “to provide advanced care for children with specialized medical needs, in a compassionate, family-centered environment.”
The Shriners Hospitals have 22 locations in North America. During the week of the game, players and coaches visit the local Shriners Hospital to meet with the patients.