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Jordan Finds Home on Defense

Posted Mar 15, 2013

After beginning his college career as a tight end, Dion Jordan moved to the defensive side of the ball.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Dion Jordan arrived at the University of Oregon’s campus as a freshman excited to join one of college football’s most explosive and dynamic offenses.

But his touchdown dances turned into sack dances as he switched from a tight end to a defensive end prior to his redshirt sophomore season.

After joining the Ducks as a four-star tight end, Jordan redshirted during his first year with the team. He played mostly on special teams the next season and found that he was pretty good at doing the hitting.

During spring practices leading up to Jordan's redshirt sophomore year, Head Coach Chip Kelly approached him about a position change.

“I understood that that was the best opportunity for me to get on the football field, so I took it,” Jordan said. “Coach Kelly and my position coach, Coach (Jerry) Azzinaro, they had a plan for me and I stuck with it, and things worked out for the best for me.”

In his first season as a defensive end, Jordan played 13 games, making 33 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss. One of those tackles behind the line of scrimmage came in the team’s BCS National Championship game against Auburn.

With a full year of experience under his belt on the defensive side of the ball, Jordan broke out during his junior year, earning All-Pacific-12 Conference first-team honors. He made 42 tackles with a team-best 13 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks.

He followed that up with a 44-tackle year in 2012 with 10.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles.

Even though he envisioned himself contributing to the high-flying Ducks offense, Jordan said he is happy with the way his college career turned out.

“Man, I imagined myself running down the field, catching the ball,” he said. “But things don’t work out that way. You’ve got to adjust. I adjusted and I took the opportunity and ran with it.”

Jordan tore his labrum midway through his senior season, but played through the injury. It held him out of the Senior Bowl and kept him from doing the bench press drill at the NFL Scouting Combine.

What the injury didn’t limit was his speed, which was on full display in Indianapolis.

Jordan posted a 4.60 time in the 40-yard dash, which tied for the fifth-fastest time among all linebackers and defensive linemen.

NFL teams are hoping that his unique blend of size and athleticism translate to the pass rush as either an outside linebacker or defensive end.

That versatility helped lead to him being named a semifinalist for the 2012 Butkus Award, which is given to college football’s top linebacker.

“I feel like me lining up all over the field on defense shows my athleticism, shows that I understand the game and that I did a lot for the university,” Jordan said. “But my whole thing is getting after the quarterback, so pass rush would be my No. 1 (asset).”

Now that he’s a full-time defensive player, Jordan said he enjoys the physical nature of life as a defender.

“I would rather do the hitting than get hit,” he said. “It’s a lot better.”