Devin Jordan kicks off his Friday Night with the Buckeyes event by talking to campers about the importance of education. (Indeonline.com / Alex Tichenor)
After years of helping football players as a coach, ex-Ohio State and Massillon receiver Devin Jordan knew he wanted to make an even greater impact. So he did.
PLAIN TWP. When Canton South alum Devon Torrence arrived at Ohio State to play football, Devin Jordan was still there.
Once upon a time, Jordan entered Columbus as a promising recruit, one of the best receivers Massillon ever produced. In his mind, Ohio State was just another stop on his road to the National Football League. That was four years before Torrence stepped foot on campus as a Buckeye.
Various injuries zapped Jordan’s college football career from him before it really even began.
“He’s a very selfless guy,” Torrence said. “Even when I was (a freshman) at Ohio State, he couldn’t play. He was injured. But he was reaching out to me, trying to help me with my plays. Going above an beyond.”
A sea of anger could have easily overtaken Jordan with his football career hopelessly evaporating so soon into his college life. But that wasn’t who Jordan was.
“It’s easy to be positive when things are going well,” former Ohio State teammate Tim Anderson said. “When you come into a program like (Ohio State) and you don’t get playing time right away, staying positive is a pretty big thing. He was always positive.”
Instead, Jordan saw it as an opportunity to get his college degree and start coaching the game he loved. He stuck around Ohio State as a student assistant coach before coaching stints at Otterbein, Wittenburg and Walsh. Still, as the years passed, Jordan felt like he was leaving something on the table.
“I saw a lot of my teammates not really understand (the importance) of education,” Jordan said. “It was almost the NFL or nothing. So, I saw some of my friends falter away and as I continued my coaching career over the last 11 years, I saw a lot of kids I recruited or were at school already didn’t really understand education. They filtered away and ruined their lives to a certain degree. I wanted to change that as much as I could.”
That’s what brought him to GlenOak Stadium on a hot August night. It marked the final installment of three Friday Night with the Buckeyes events in association with his non-profit organization he founded in 2016: Beyond the Game.
Jordan’s goal? Use football to get kids in the door and then pepper them with the importance of education.
“People will actually listen when it comes to football,” said Anderson, one of several former Buckeyes in attendance last week. “Especially in Stark County, it’s huge.”
They’re right, kids aren’t going to be happy about attending a lecture on why they should read more. But if those lectures are disguised in the form of a football camp, especially a football camp involving former Ohio State players? Kids will be there.
And they were Friday, along with their scarlet and gray-dressed parents.
Jordan still coaches too — he’s the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach at Malone — but spends much of his summers doing events like the one Friday, which was free for all attendees.
“You can shoot to go to the Horseshoe and play football, but we want you to get your degree and be successful and give back to community where you came from,” Jordan said.
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