Where are they now: Ohio State wide receiver Devin Jordan
During an August 2004 practice, Ohio State wide receiver Devin Jordan was blocking in the slot. Safety Donte Whitner came up, tackled running back Antonio Pittman and rolled up Jordan's leg. A broken fibula and dislocated ankle was the result.
Getting caught in the crossfire put an end to Jordan's pursuit of a starting job. In fact, it effectively ended his playing career.
"Never came back the same," he said.
It was one of the best things to ever happen to him.
Prior to that moment, Jordan had never considered entering the coaching ranks. That changed with the injury — albeit not without some prodding.
"I remember my senior day at Ohio State, coming out of the tunnel, running out, they announced my name, and coach (Jim Tressel) shook my hand and said, 'Stay in this game, Devin. ... You've got a bright future.' "
Beyond merely encouraging Jordan, Tressel offered him a position as a student coach. Among others, Jordan worked with a young Ohio State wide receiver named Brian Hartline.
Buckeyes defensive backs coach Taver Johnson made some introductions at his alma mater, which paved the way to Jordan getting his first official coaching job at Wittenberg.
He then spent three seasons at Otterbein.
"Having the best three-year run they've ever had in school history," said Jordan, "I think that was a great experience."
Next up were stops at Walsh and Malone, where Jordan helped mentor future NFL receivers Joseph Morgan, Krishawn Hogan and Ashton Dulin.
"A lot of times, people right now think it's Division I or bust. You're not going to make it to the NFL if you're not in Division I," Jordan said. "You can be successful from Division II, if you do things the right way."
At Walsh, Jordan was a member of the staff of Jim Dennison, the man who gave Tressel his first coaching job. His next stop provided another echo of Tressel's career; Jordan spent a year at Youngstown State, where Tressel famously coached from 1986 to 2001.
All that being said, Jordan insists he doesn't wear a sweater vest like his mentor. Ohio State fans will find that out for themselves when the Buckeyes host Akron, because Jordan is an offensive quality control coach for the Zips.
In addition to being a welcome homecoming, Saturday's game will give Jordan an opportunity to playfully trash talk one OSU assistant in particular, although once the game is over he will undoubtedly resume referring to Hartline as "the best wide receivers coach in America."
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Jordan is also seeking to impact young people away from the field. As with many former football players, he stages football camps, but Jordan holds character education and life skills classes as well. He started a charity "Beyond the Game" in 2014. During the pandemic, the organization helped distribute more than 10,000 water bottles for kids’ lunches and 800 children's face masks in Stark County.
Jordan, like Ohio State coach Ryan Day, wants to preach the importance of mental health. That's in honor of his late mother, who despite her own struggles, taught her son something he will never forget.
"You do have hope. People do love you. You do have support around you," he said. "See the brighter side of things. That's something I'll keep advocating for.
"Mom, she was really big on helping people, inspiring people."
Those are also lessons that Jordan includes in his book "The Mental Manual." Like so much of the former Buckeyes' coaching career, it takes inspiration from the work of coach Tressel, who published "The Winners Manual."
The apple, it turns out, does not fall too far from the coaching tree.