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Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Jordan rising at Cal

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Here's a nice stat line for a linebacker playing against Oregon's high-powered attack: 10 tackles, a sack, three tackles for a loss.

 
  AP Photo/Ben Margot
 California sophomore defensive end Cameron Jordan, right, celebrates his sack of Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter (not shown) on Oct. 4.

When that stat line, however, belongs to a defensive end instead of a linebacker, nice becomes impressive. And when that line belongs to a true sophomore elevated into the lineup only because of an injury to the starter, well, it's time to find out who the heck this guy is.

Of course, we already sort of know who California's Cameron Jordan is.

A month ago, after replacing Rulon Davis in the starting lineup, Jordan posted eight tackles, two quarterback sacks and and a forced fumble in the Bears win over Arizona State and won Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors.

He's started just four games but his 30 tackles rank second among Bears defensive linemen, just two fewer than junior Tyson Alualu, who is one of the best ends in the conference.

Jordan's seven tackles for a loss rank second on the team behind linebacker Zach Follett and 10th overall in the Pac-10.

So, yeah, it's fair to say the word "upside" is being tossed around concerning the 6-foot-4, 286 pounder.

"We sure did miss out on the guy," said USC coach Pete Carroll, who admitted his recruiting machine didn't make a stop in Chandler, Ariz., to look at Jordan.

Carroll's Trojans will try to slow down Jordan's ascension as one of the conference's bright, young defensive standouts on Saturday when the Bears visit the Coliseum.

"He's getting after the quarterback and making things happen and putting a lot of pressure on people," Carroll said.

One thing that helped Jordan against the Ducks was he, at times, lined up in a two-point stance -- the "almost wanna-be linebacker stance," Jordan called it -- at the line of scrimmage. That helped him spy the Ducks backfield.

Still, 10 tackles is a highly productive afternoon for an end, no matter how he lines up. Jordan said he was surprised when he learned he'd been in on that many plays.

"I was impressed when my coach told me that too," he said. "I'd like to say it was pure hustle. Our coach is always trying to instill in us a non-loaf mentality. You have to run everywhere."

And Jordan can really run.

"He's very fast and he's very athletic," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He runs so well that he chases a lot of things down."

Jordan, who had 18 tackles and a pair of half-sacks as a true freshman, also has a strong initial strike on opposing offensive linemen that's beyond his years. He's good at keeping blockers from getting to his body as well as to his legs with cut blocks.

And he seems to find the ball, which is not typical for an end playing in a 3-4 scheme where the linebackers typically make most of the plays.

It's hard to believe that Jordan didn't really hit on the recruiting radar until his senior year, though most of the Pac-10 ended up offering him by the time he recorded 17.5 sacks as a senior at Chandler High School.

He's certainly got good football bloodlines. His dad, Steve Jordan, played 13 years for the Cleveland Browns and was selected six times for the Pro Bowl.

As for getting ready for big, bad USC, Jordan does show his age.

"I'm not treating it any differently," he said. "They're in the Pac-10 and every Pac-10 team has to be respected."

Or maybe that's actually another impressive line?