Jordan’s versatility strengthens Temple’s defense

Owls outside linebacker Layton Jordan’s athleticism lets him play several different positions.

Layton Jordan, a redshirt-junior outside linebacker, proves his worthiness as an all-around player through is athleticism and his competitive spirit. | ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

During his high school career, Temple outside linebacker Layton Jordan played a position on all three phases of the game, doing whatever it took to help McKeesport Area High School in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, win games. He played running back on offense, pass rusher on defense and was even the team’s starting punter on special teams. 

Pure athleticism was the reason Jordan could play anywhere on the field, but it was a will to win that made him want to play each position.  

Now the redshirt junior has taken this competitive spirit to the collegiate level, working as a defensive end and outside linebacker on a Temple team in need of playmakers. Jordan has 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss so far this season. His versatility creates mismatches for opposing offenses and has led to significant disruptions of plays on several occasions.  

In Temple’s Sept. 24 victory against the University of Massachusetts (1-4), Jordan intercepted a third quarter pass from UMass redshirt-junior quarterback Gino Campiotti and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown. While the play itself was impressive, Jordan showed the speed and awareness many knew he was capable of.  

“When I caught it, it took me back to high school days when I used to play running back,” Jordan said. “I took advantage of it and thought, ‘I gotta do what I gotta do to get in the endzone.’” 

Jordan was at the line of scrimmage for most of the quarter before that play, so when Temple defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot dropped him into coverage, UMass was unprepared.  

Pittsburgh is very basketball and football-oriented, so Jordan constantly participated in practices and games throughout his childhood. Unbeknownst to him, the various sports helped create an aggressive spirit for Jordan and allowed for him to become an all-around athlete.  

Jordan’s playmaking ability is not a mystery, especially to McKeesport High School football coach Matt Miller. Miller coached Jordan for three years, with the last two as the head coach.  

“He’s got a lot of natural ability,” Miller said. “He’s somebody who can always do just about anything on the football field. He was a first team all-conference running back for us.” 

When Jordan was recruited by former Temple head football coach Geoff Collins, Collins’ staff knew he had the potential to become a starter. However, Jordan’s ability to play different positions almost became a problem.  

He was not suited for any one position at first, which caused issues in his placement on the depth chart early on. His transition from defensive end to outside linebacker furthered his potential to become a starter, a spot on the field was never guaranteed.  

Jordan rotated in and out of the lineup and did not have a solidified role under former head coach Rod Carey in 2021. When current head coach Stan Drayton took over, Jordan knew it was his time to step up.  

“I’m happy with all of the progress I’ve made over the coaching changes,” Jordan said. “If you want that goal you’ve got to go get it.” 

As a key starter for an Owls defense giving up only 16.8 points per game, Jordan has used his seniority to make a change, helping bring a new energy to the locker room.  

The linebacker has played 7-on-7 with players like NFL running back Miles Sanders and competed alongside several other college players while at McKeesport.  

“It comes from a community thing,” Jordan said. “We all pushed each other, we would be active. We were always playing sports and being around sports.” 

Whether it is by rushing the passer or dropping into coverage, Jordan is determined to make his impact felt on every play. While it may not always appear on the stat sheet, the players and coaches are all aware of his impact.  

“He’s a playmaker at the outside linebacker position,” Drayton said. “His understanding of the game has enhanced tremendously since the first time we’ve gotten here. The kid wants to be great.”

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