From Chandler to the pros, Jordan racing early toward NFL dreams - East Valley Tribune: VarsityXtra

From Chandler to the pros, Jordan racing early toward NFL dreams

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Posted: Saturday, April 23, 2011 5:08 pm | Updated: 4:00 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Other Arizona high school players who could get chosen during this week's NFL Draft:

Name                             College        High school       Pos.     Outlook

Prince Amukamara     Nebraska         Apollo              CB       Possible top-10 pick

Dontay Moch                  Nevada         Hamilton          OLB      2nd or 3rd round pick

Kristofer O’Dowd           USC              Salpointe           OL       Late-round pick or FA

When Cameron Jordan left high school in 2007, he wasn’t one of the can’t-miss recruits in the state.

Those honors went to Everson Griffen of Agua Fria and Kris O’Dowd of Salpointe, both of whom chose to play at USC.

Not that the Chandler defensive end cared.

“The deal in my house was, if you get a scholarship, you get a car,” Jordan said. “That was the big thing for me.”

While he didn’t have an overload of offers, several Pac-10 schools did press Jordan for his services, and he decided to take his brand-new 2007 Dodge Charger up to Cal to play for the Golden Bears.

Fast-forward four years, and he will have the ability to buy an entire fleet of automobiles if he so chooses after his name is called in Thursday’s NFL Draft.

After a solid Senior Bowl performance and an impressive showing at the NFL combine, he now projects to be taken in the middle of the first round. The prospect of an NFL career became a realistic option to him after he made honorable mention all-Pac-10 as a sophomore.

Jordan played in 50 of a possible 51 games in his collegiate career, earning first team all-Pac-10 honors last fall a senior. He finished the year with 61 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks.

“Once I got honorable mention, I just wanted to see if I could improve my stats again and make my dreams come true,” Jordan said.

When he first got to Chandler High, making it big in football wasn’t on his mind.

Despite the fact that his father, Steve, was a perennial Pro Bowl tight end for the Vikings in the late 1980s and early 90s, Cameron preferred the hardwood.

“He loved basketball,” former Chandler football coach Jim Ewan said. “He played basketball his freshman and sophomore years. He came out for football because he was a big kid.”

Cameron didn’t start playing football until eighth grade, and when he was young he didn’t think of Steve as an icon. His dad would go to work and then come home, much like other dads. Cameron would sometimes go to games with his mother, Anita, and other family members, but didn’t see what the big deal was.

“My mother kept it to the minimum, for sure,” Jordan said. “I’d be in the stands with my uncle and my mom, but as a kid, you don’t really know. We’d go to the locker room, but it just seemed like a bunch of naked guys walking around.”

It took until midway through his junior season of high school for Jordan to become an elite player. As a senior, he set a school-record with 17 1/2 sacks.

“Halfway through his junior year something clicked,” Ewan said. “He began to dominate people.”

Jordan graduated high school at 17 and played as a true freshman for the Bears. He eventually moved his way up the depth chart, becoming a starter six games into his sophomore season.

He had a career-high six sacks as a junior, and opened the eyes of scouts as a senior. The last few months have been a whirlwind for Jordan, as he travels across the country to meet with teams. “I’ve never gone to three different time zones in three different days,” Jordan said. “It’s an exciting time.”

Ewan talks fondly of his former player, who will still visit his old coach and school when he is in town.

Ewan laughed when he recalled Cameron’s parents outlining a contract with requirements to keep the car.

“There were a couple of other criteria (in addition to earning a scholarship),” Ewan said. “Good grades, be a good person, stay out of trouble. They put it in writing. Cameron came from a family that was stricter than a lot of his friends.”

Jordan drives the Charger around Berkeley to this day.

After he gets drafted on Thursday and eventually signs, money won’t be an issue, and an upgrade will come.

But the old car won’t be tossed into the scrapheap.

“My mom told me I have to give it to my little sister,” Jordan said.

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