PDT Sports Editor
Former Portsmouth quarterback Mason Jordan sat with his family in the team’s football coaches office Saturday afternoon ready to speak about where he would continue his football career.
It was a long, drawn out process that saw Jordan bide his time, considering the academic and athletic advantages of each destination. Ultimately, he decided to lean on the expertise of long-time PHS coach, Curt Clifford on what jersey he would look best in.
The former Trojan signal caller will be dawning the green and white of the Division III Wilmington Quakers come autumn and the decision had Clifford, a product of the Wilmington program, grinning from ear to ear.
“I’m extremely tickled about Mason going to my alma mater,” Clifford said. “Gives me reason to go back up there some more. Three of the guys on that staff I played ball with and two are my fraternity brothers. The head coach was my graduate assistant when I played.”
Clifford played a large role in his former player landing with the Quakers.
“He had a lot to do with it,” Jordan said. “He wrote a lot of letters of recommendations to the school and the dean that helped out.”
Clifford’s persistence and Jordan’s traits as a 6-2, 170-pound passer were what attracted Wilmington.
“I told them No. 1 he is tough and regardless of what anybody thinks, you can’t play college football unless you’re tough,” Clifford said. “It’s the separation from the men and the boys and it is a culture shock for a lot of young men. But I sold them on Mason’s arm strength and his toughness.”
Jordan said the Wilmington coaching staff expressed the same interests in his ability and added that his height and mobility were also factors.
The culture and focus on academics stood out to Jordan and his family.
“We were really impressed with the coaches,” Jordan’s grandmother Josie Blackmon said. “We talked with the offensive coordinator and coach (Ken) Minor yesterday and we were very impressed with them and with their attitude toward young people in general. In fact, we were impressed with the whole staff up there. They are very helpful and I liked the culture there.
“The school seemed very concerned with his education and they have some strict rules and they expect the kids to follow them and I appreciated that.”
The adjustment from high school senior to college freshman can can be a challenge, but Jordan’s mother, Lucretia Jordan felt comfortable with the available programs that help students settle in and excel.
“They offer a unique multicultural mentorship program that Mason will be going into his freshman year which will help him adapt to the college environment and as far as his education studies go,” Lucretia Jordan said. “I think that will be extremely beneficial to making sure that he is successful his freshman year and then making it through to his senior year and graduating.”
Mason Jordan said he plans on studying sports management while he works on the craft of quarterbacking. The roster situation at Wilmington would suggest a season of the former Trojan taking snaps in junior varsity contests before contending for the position as a sophomore.
“I just have to work hard and that’s all I can do,” Mason Jordan said.
The Quakers could not find success in 2011 going winless, but third-year coach Ken Minor brought in a new offensive coordinator for the 2012 season in Jay Niswonger.
“Their new offensive coordinator and I played ball together there for three years,” Clifford said. “I talked to coach Ken Minor, who was my graduate assistant when I was a freshman, and I wanted to make sure that they knew they were getting a quarterback.”
Clifford sees the program turning around in the coming seasons.
“I think Mason is walking into the same situation I did. I think these guys are going to get back to recruiting the way it ought to be done and I hope they can get this thing turned around,” Clifford said. “I think they are getting this thing turned around because they are going out and recruiting guys like Mason Jordan. They get enough guys like him on that football team they will be successful.”
Mason Jordan joked that the biggest thing he needed to improve on before suiting up for Wilmington was holding onto the ball for too long. Ever-stoic, Jordan showed some stifled anticipation for the fall.
“I’m excited, but I don’t want to show too much excitement,” Mason Jordan said.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.