D’Angelo Jordan: Influencing student-athlete’s abilities one rep at a time

25
JANUARY, 2017

Football
Strength
Conditioning
Student-Athletes

D’Angelo Jordan was a big time running back out of Cumberlands, All-American, record setting player whose career was on path for professional glory only to transition from the field to the weight room. While some might look at an injury as a negative, you will learn from this conversation that perhaps things really do happen for a reason… as long as you have faith in the process.

Q: Tell us about your High School career and what the recruiting process was like. Why did you choose Cumberlands (UC)?

I was born and raised on the northeast side of Jacksonville, FL. I attended Jean Ribault High School my freshman year — home of the Trojans, who are rivals to my Alma Mater. I transferred to William M. Raines High School my sophomore — senior year, home of the “Ichiban” Vikings — Viking Pride! (Ichiban — the Japanese term for #1)

The transfer was a necessity due to “resistance” from a certain Mathematics Teacher.

I played Basketball (Point Guard), Football (Runningback, Fullback, Slot, Inside and Outside Linebacker, Rover and Safety), Baseball (First and Third Baseman, Short Stop and Out Field), Wrestling (215 lbs.) and I competed in Track & Field (100m, 200m, 4x100m, Shot Put and Disk).

I excelled in Football and Wrestling, although I allowed my football career (in-season) to take priority over all sports. In Football, I broke my High School Record (that still stands) for Yards Per Rush (YPR): 10.1 my senior season. I also broke the Florida Wrestling State Record (2009), at the time, for a pin at 6 seconds (currently 4 seconds).

With Football being my primary sport I received letters from a multitude of Colleges/Universities. Once I garnered a bit of exposure I began to focus on a few schools; Michigan, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Rice and Hampton. The University of Michigan was the only school to offer a Conditional Athletic Scholarship due to being Academically Ineligible, simply because I wasn’t cleared through the NCAA Clearinghouse – now known as the Eligibility Center. I was in the last semester of my senior year and I had never taken the SAT or ACT. I was projected to win State in Wrestling my senior year, but I made a selfish mistake going into the weeks of Tournament Matches. I opted to take the SAT and ACT at the last possible moment to retain that Football Scholarship from the University of Michigan, I missed the score by 1 point.

I graduated High School in 2009, I had to sit out that year (Summer, Fall and Spring 2010) to find a NAIA school to attend. At that time I had no idea what an NAIA School was. I did my research and the competition was promising. While I was in the middle of my School Search, I had a “backup plan” to join the United States Marine Corps. I told my recruiter, “if I didn’t get offered/accepted into College, I would join the United States Marine Corps”. I took all the mandatory and necessary steps to make sure that I would get into the Marine Corps, no matter the outcome. Before all this took place, my junior year of High School I prayed and asked the LORD, “send me to a Christian University so I can grow in my faith”. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord and Savior as a child — I said that prayer because at that point in my life I recognized that I was under spiritual warfare, the enemy (Satan) was trying to take my life by the deceptions of my environment (life in the hood). That prayer was answered and it didn’t dawn on me until my senior year of College that everything leading up to this point was all according to His plan for life. My next step was the most important of all. I set my heart on applying to the top 16 NAIA Football Schools ranked in the NAIA College Football Playoffs. I decided that I will attend the first school that calls me back. The University of the Cumberlands called me back within a couple of days. It was pretty late at night, a middle aged woman informed me that the University was offering me Academic Money and the Football Coach was offering me a Scholarship. The very next morning the United States Marine Corps was knocking at my front door. I informed my recruiter of the good news, but he wasn’t thrilled. Yet, he congratulated me and life went on from there.

D’Angelo Jordan in the Weight Room

Q: What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in your sports career to date?

Above all my individual accomplishments, my greatest accomplishment in my Sports Career to date would be helping my Football Team go on that National Championship run in 2013. Our senior class was a Football Team destined for greatness.

  • 2010: 7-4 MSC Champions – NAIA Playoffs
  • 2011:7-3
  • 2012: 10-2 NAIA Playoffs
  • 2013: 13-1 MSC Champions – Ranked #1 – NAIA Playoffs – NAIA National Championship

My senior class put up the best Football Winning Percentage (%) in School History. During a Bowl Game against Division II Mckendree University, our first game of my freshman year, my guys Adrian Hightower, Terrance Cobb and I were on the sideline discussing the future of The Program. We made a bold statement, “we will ‘go’ to the National Championship before our career is over”. But, we made a drastic mistake on the wording in that statement. We went to the Title Game, but we didn’t “win” it.

“I believe the LORD placed me here for a reason, to do a mighty work for His Kingdom.”

Q: What do you consider to be one of the more important things you learned from the coaching staff while at Cumberlands?

We had, in my opinion, the best Coaches in the Nation! To list a few (The Magnificent 7);

  • John “The Man” Bland
  • “Screaming” Michael Collins
  • Edgar “The Nut” Weiser
  • Jared “Jay Money” Bright
  • Dekeldric “D.K.” Felton
  • Travis “The Mack Truck” Mihalik
  • Colby “Hitch Block” Hitchcock.

That Coaching Staff taught us one of the most important commodities of organized Sports, Preparation. Preparation is to construct, develop and make ready a product. Together we were that valuable. We went into every game head and shoulders above the competition, every game!

Q: What was it like playing in the NAIA National Championship vs Grand View?

The Magical Two Thousand Thirteen and One-derful Season! We lost our final game to the Grand View Vikings in the National Championship at Shorter University in Rome, GA.

The Game; 4 Punts, 4 Turnovers, 6 Penalties and we still managed to hold them to 35 points. We lost that game, not because we were defeated by the opponent, we beat ourselves mentally the week leading up to the game and during the game. I have nothing but respect and gratitude for the fine Football Program from Des Moines, IA. The experience was outstanding, we soaked up every moment. The Field was the best I’ve ever played on in my entire “Football Life”. I was 100% mentally and 65% physically ready go. I played my entire senior season with two “major” injuries that took place within the first two games of the season. I tore the flexor tendon in my right ring finger (self-healed) and I tore the anterior talofibular ligament, anterior tibiofibular ligament, calcaneofibular ligament, fibularis longus and brevis tendon and severely torn cartilage in my right ankle (arthroscopic surgery). Imagine playing on that for fourteen games. Yet, I still managed to rush for 110 yards on 14 carries and 1 touchdown in the first half — the second half was drastically different, 18 yards on 3 carries and 0 touchdowns. But, it’s a hard pill to swallow when you know you were the better team that didn’t show up to play that day! I would love to say more, but the few words stated will have to suffice, for now.

NAIA National Championship: http://www.naia.org/fls/27900/1NAIA/SportsInfo/Championships/2013FB/2013_GVUvsUC.html?SPSID=646948&SPID=100297&DB_OEM_ID=27900

Q: You had a great college career. Did you think about going pro? What were your options and how did they affect your decisions? 

My college career was pretty good to say the least.

NAIA/University of the Cumberlands Career Achievements:

  • 2013 Highest Yards Per Rush in a Season: 8.2
  • 2013 MSC Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2013 MSC 1st Team All-Conference
  • 2013 BSN 2nd Team All-American
  • 2013 VSN Offensive Key Returner
  • 2013 Team Most Outstanding Offensive Player
  • 2013 Team MVP
  • 2012 MSC 2nd Team All-Conference
  • 2012 BSN National College Athlete of the Week (2)
  • Highest Average Gain Per Rush in a Career [min. 250 rushes]: 8.1 (NAIA/School Record)
  • 4 Year Starter: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
  • 2nd Highest Yards in a Game: 270
  • 2nd Highest Average Gain Per Rush in a Game: 19.6
  • 5th All-Time in All-Purpose Yards and Yards-Per-Game in a Season
  • 6th All-Time in100+yd Games in a Career: (11)
  • 7th Player to Rush for (1,000+) yards in a Season
  • 7th All-Time in Career Rushing Yards and TD’s
  • MSC Championships: (2010, 2013)
  • NAIA National Championship: (2013 Runner-Up)

I had the opportunity to play Professional Football in the NFL and CFL. The unfortunate truth is that my injury held me back. I competed in the NFL Regional Combine and at the University of the Cumberlands Inaugural Pro Day. While performing at both with a severely injured right ankle.

NFL Regional Combine: https://www.nflregionalcombines.com/ProfileVideo.aspx?e376e9ea93d29ef477f4ab947d49687167a1e508398bd90543008598bb55d06869c83a47c1db845b787e27a7150 HYPERLINK

University of the Cumberlands Inaugural Pro Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S42SaSBpKg

I signed with an Agency: DNA Sports Management (Lifetime Partnership). From the NFL I had legitimate interest from the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, New York Giants, Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders. In the CFL there was interest from the Montreal Alouettes where I had a tryout (injured) and I attended the Toronto Argonauts mini-camp tryouts in Bradenton, FL at the IMG Academy (injured). The Oakland Raiders scout Mickey Marvin stated, “if he runs a solid 4.5 forty, we will invite him to Rookie Training Camp as a Priority Rookie Free Agent after the NFL Draft”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t run that time at 60% health.

I played my last Football game of any kind on December 21, 2013 in Rome, GA @4:24PM.

Q: You recently became the strength and conditioning coordinator for Cumberlands. What influenced that decision?

I worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Ward Correll Health & Wellness Center here on campus. I assisted in the day to day operations of a fitness facility, assisted in the implementation of campus sports programs and served as a supervisor and mentor to the student body. During my spare time I did some Personal Training as well.

After completing my MAT in Physical Education on October 20, 2016 I truly desired to start my career here in the small College Town of Williamsburg, KY. I believe the LORD placed me here for a reason, to do a mighty work for His Kingdom. While having an impact on the lives of all the Student-Athletes that are coming up after me. The Athletic Director Mr. Chris Kraftick reached out to me on Friday December 2, 2016 @2:35PM to meet with him on December 5, 2016 @11:05AM to discus the opportunity of becoming the first Strength & Conditioning Coordinator at The University of the Cumberlands! So what influenced that decision? I’d say the question is Who influenced that decision? I believe the LORD placed a vision on the heart of Mr. Kraftick, to take this University and the Athletic Program to new heights. While recognizing my efforts here on campus, to make me a key cog in that process. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” To God be the Glory!

Q: Having been out of college only a few years, how would you like to influence the team and the younger players? What goals do you have for the team?

My desire for all teams, is to share the importance of Strength & Conditioning. To instill a “burning desire” for legitimate improvement in the weight room and on the gridiron, to demonstrate how the work done in the weight room must and will transfer to the gridiron. That is accomplished by becoming a technician on every lift, and never compromising form for weight. My goal is to do this while sharing the importance of leadership outside the realm of Sports; in the classroom, in the dorms, on the weekends and in everyday life. Your true character is not what you say or do when everyone is looking, true character is what’s in your heart that births actions when no one is looking. On top of that, I’d like to influence the Student-Athletes to build relationships with each other on and off the gridiron. To build that trust and respect that’s relative to a Championship Team. While developing that camaraderie one begins to create a brotherhood and sisterhood, a bond that can’t be broken. How you perform is relative to how you prepare!

“My ultimate achievement would be to leave a lasting impression on every Student—Athlete that I come in contact with. ”

Q: If you could sit down with the teenage version of yourself, what would be your message to him?

This is a tough one.. I could write a novel on this question alone. Yet, I will be brief in my response and give the fine Kingdom points.

I would say to him, “What matters most is not what you do here on earth. It’s What and Who you live for. Stop living to prove people wrong, doubters and haters will be at every corner. Stop trying to do it on your own, you can’t, it’s spiritually and physically impossible. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6). You know the Truth, yet you continue to live a life of sin. You repent but you won’t turn and live. Why continue into unrepentant sin after receiving knowledge of the Truth? “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26, 27). You say you love the LORD, but you don’t keep His commandments. Luke 11:28 says, “But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!””, John 14:15 says, ““If you love Me, keep My commandments…”. Lastly, I say to you, go back to your First Love — rededicate your life to Christ, confess your sins, live a life of repentance and live for eternity. Once you rededicate your life to Christ, accepting Him into your heart as Lord and Savior of your life, your walk as true follower of Christ will not be about you. It’s about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the eternal sacrifice for the sins of every human being in the world. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33, 34).” That would be it in a nutshell.

I was a hoodlum for 6 years. I completely fell into temptation my freshman year of high school and began to sin willfully my senior year of high school. James 1:14-15 states, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”. Before I knew it, I allowed the enemy to deceive me, with the nature of my environment drawing me away from the Way. Keeping my Faith, I was no longer a true follower of Christ. Revelation 3:15 states, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth”. I became lukewarm, just another believer, in which I naturally stopped professing True Christianity. I knew in my heart, in my spirit that I would become a bonafide hypocrite (Lukewarm) if I lived a secular lifestyle and “proclaim” Christianity. Ezekiel 18:24 states, “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die”. When anyone asked where I stood with the Lord, I simply said, “I’m a believer not a true follower” (A Faithful Believer). I continued to pray and thank God daily. I was very active in sports which kept me out of an “immense” amount of trouble (With the Law). Presently, the LORD has fulfilled His Word for my life, continuing daily as He completes His work in me. While everyday I strive for perfection in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Q: Who is or has been the most influential person in your life?

There has been many influential people to come along in my life. I couldn’t sit here and name them all or one for that matter. I’ll say the LORD has been by my side through the good, the bad and the ugly many times over. He continued to plant seeds in my ear, but it was only a matter of time before one made it to my heart. to answer the call, He chose me. If I had to pick one, I’d pick two and that is Daniel & Angela Jordan my parents. They planted that initial seed in my heart, giving me that Biblical Foundation of Faith that lead to my personal relationship with Christ. They prepared me for the rigors of life at an “early age”. I was taught to always think for myself, to be a leader and not a follower of men, to treat others the way I wanted to be treated, to give respect so that respect may be given, to be a man of my word, to “always” share the truth in love and to speak life into everything that I do!

Q: What would be your ultimate achievement?

My ultimate achievement would be to leave a lasting impression on every Student—Athlete that I come in contact with. I’d do that by simply being myself, I am who I am in Christ. Using the platform I’m given to do my job to the best of my ability, while sharing the love of Christ through the way I live my life. I’ve experienced a great deal in my young life both physically (naturally) and spiritually (supernaturally)! There is nothing better than seeing a person succeed by accomplishing everything he or she sets their heart on.

The University of the Cumberlands Football Highlights:

Hudl: http://www.hudl.com/video/3/478111/5721b759dfe23b2d68915374