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Dion working well as a Duck

Posted by on January 10, 2011 – 1:57 pm

Given the proximity, Oregon fans figure to be the louder of the two representative schools at Monday night’s BCS National Championship game between the Ducks and Auburn.

Inside the green and gold, Dion Jordan fans – all 20 of them – will be louder still.

The former Chandler High standout now defends against the same passes he was oft-unstoppable at catching in high school. The sophomore receiver-turned-tight-end-turned defensive end doesn’t start but will see plenty of action. He redshirted in 2008 but through special teams and the position switch has 29 tackles (4.5 tackles for loss) and 2.5 sacks this season.

Given Auburn’s propensity to play at Oregon-esque speed, rotating defensive players will be important for Oregon, which means Jordan will get plenty of playing time.

Three years removed from a teenage mental meltdown in which he and a few friends tried to siphon gasoline out of a car using a vacuum, and a spark ignited his body.

The skin grafts and burns are still visible. The rest, however, is a distant memory.

“I’m an Oregon fan, no matter what (Auburn alum) Charles Barkley says,” said Wolves coach Jim Ewan, who talks with Jordan regularly and will wait to see each other until Tuesday because Ewan (somehow) turned down Jordan’s offer for tickets to Monday’s championship game.

Despite the “What the ….. were you thinking?” moment that led to three weeks of hospitalization, rehab and missing the final half of his senior season at Chandler, Jordan always was a cerebral kid with a straight head on his shoulders, even as his football abilities were attracting attention.

When he was finally allowed outside the hospital (temporarily) for the Chandler vs. Hamilton game in 2007, he unexpectedly appeared in the locker room, then led the Wolves onto the field before watching the game in a golf cart.

But not before he voluntarily apologized to his Chandler teammates for having a huge, negative impact on the team and the Wolves’ season.

Oregon was a different place than the Valley, and, in his youthful wisdom, Jordan wanted to stretch his wings and absorb another part of the country. This became evident when he was an eighth grader on the Arizona Cheetahs track club squad that went to Oregon for a national meet that summer. When the Ducks didn’t flinch on their scholarship offer after his accident, Jordan was sold.

Jordan played part-time on the defensive line at Chandler, and since other schools that recruited him also saw defense in his future, he didn’t resist a full-time position change to defense at Oregon.

He’ll have a bigger impact with his size and speed in the next couple years; An impact he’ll make doing more than simply blocking or catching 4-5 passes per game (on a good day given Oregon’s offensive talent).

Even on that first night of freedom for three hours (he had to go back to the hospital after the Chandler-Hamilton game) in October 2007, Jordan sensed how lucky he was to only have one-third of his body burned and graffed. Football

“Dion is an old soul in a young man’s body, way above where it should be for a 20-year-old,” Ewan said. “He was told he’d be lucky to walk again, the chances of athletics were slim to none.  That recovery was remarkable. I think he got everything he could out of a bad situation.”

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