After a slow start to his college career, Temple junior outside linebacker Layton Jordan has emerged as one of college football’s premier pass rushers this season.
Jordan, who ranks fifth among FBS players in sacks, has put together a three-game stretch that includes 4.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss, making a major contribution to Temple’s improved defense.
Jordan’s speed off the edge created problems for Rutgers. He finished with two sacks in Temple’s 16-14 loss to the Scarlet Knights last week.
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In the fourth quarter, Jordan sacked quarterback Evan Simon for a loss of 15 yards to knock Rutgers out of field-goal position with less than seven minutes remaining. Jordan’s sack almost led to a Temple comeback, but the offense failed to convert a fourth down with a little over two minutes left on the clock.
First-year coach Stan Drayton is not surprised by Jordan’s breakout performance.
“His job is to be an impact player,” Drayton said at Saturday’s postgame press conference. “His job is to make plays when his number is called within the defensive scheme. He is just doing his job. He is doing what he is supposed to do.”
Jordan’s role on defense has expanded. He earned rotational snaps as a defensive lineman and tallied one sack and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2021.
Jordan was moved to outside linebacker when Drayton was hired. The fifth-year player credits Temple defensive coordinator DJ Eliot for his development at a new position.
“I feed off his energy,” Jordan said. “I feed off his coaching. I am a mistake learner. I learn from my mistakes, and I write them down. He also corrects me in the film room, tells me what I need [to work on].”
The original transition to outside linebacker was challenging because of Jordan’s inexperience in coverage. He learned more about coverage schemes after watching hours of film.
Rushing the quarterback is not Jordan’s only strength.
“You turn the film on, he is fitting on guards and tackles pulling his way,” Drayton said at a press conference two weeks ago. “He is not flinching. He is a tough football player.”
For the last decade, Temple has developed successful pass rushers, including Giants linebacker Quincy Roche and Falcons edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie, who both transferred to Power 5 programs.
Jordan applied what Roche and Ebiketie taught him and elevated his game.
“They had an edge and a chip on their shoulder,” Jordan said. “They wanted to reach that goal they had in mind. They had a plan and followed that plan.”
Jordan has created a similar plan that works. He leans on his teammates and defensive line coach Antoine Smith to learn more about pass-rush techniques.
“He is always on me,” Jordan said. “Always telling me what I have to do. He coaches me differently because he is not my [position] coach.”
Jordan also speaks with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf and offensive line coach Chris Wiesehan to gain more knowledge about how quarterbacks and offensive linemen operate.
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Jordan’s development has all happened in Philly. He graduated from McKeesport Area Senior High School five years ago and left a good impression on the program.
“He was one of those guys who lights up a room,” McKeesport head coach Matt Miller said. “He has a big personality.”
Jordan is set to graduate this December with a degree in adult and organizational development with a focus in education.
His passion for teaching has translated to the linebacker room.
“I am teaching the young cats how to watch film,” Jordan said. “They always ask me good questions, and I am always one call away. I am always here to help people.”