Jordan Magee fulfills lifelong dream of making the NFL

The single-digit linebacker is the first Temple Football player to get drafted since 2020.

Magee’s play aided him in fulfilling a lifelong goal of playing in the NFL by getting drafted by the Washington Commanders in the fifth round of the NFL draft on April 27. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Jordan Magee wrapped up the 2022 football season with his future at Temple in flux. The Owls had finished their first year with head coach Stan Drayton and earned their second consecutive 3-9 record, and Magee had the opportunity to seek greener pastures at another school.

Magee had 86 tackles, which ranked first on the team and top 10 in the American Athletic Conference. His performance was good enough to catch the attention of Power Five schools, casting a shadow on whether he’d return in 2023.

He wouldn’t have been the first. Temple saw running back Ray Davis transfer to Vanderbilt and defensive end Arnold Ebiketie leave North Broad For Penn State in 2021. Magee could’ve easily joined them.

He spent the first part of the offseason weighing every option he had but eventually turned down the chance to leave the family he created on North Broad Street and returned for his senior season.

“I knew that I could make [the NFL] from Temple,” Magee said. “The money wasn’t a big part for me. Most of the time that’s why people transfer but I stayed because of my loyalty to my brothers. I wouldn’t just up and leave them for a little bit of money.”

While the Owls’ season ended with yet another disappointing three-win season, all eyes were on Magee. He became a leader for Temple, anchoring an ailing Owls’ defense with 80 tackles and 14 tackles for loss. 

Magee’s play aided him in fulfilling a lifelong goal of playing in the NFL by getting drafted by the Washington Commanders in the fifth round of the NFL draft on April 27. His play also helped cement a legacy at Temple, both on and off the field.

“That’s the great thing about Jordan Magee,” Drayton said. “He was a teammate first. Yeah, he has individual goals, but he poured into the team. That is something that’s going to always be favorable for those scouts and to have him be an example of that.”


The Dover, Delaware, native first put on pads when he was just seven years old. His love of the game led him to Dover High School where he forged a relationship with Rudy Simonetti, his head coach from his sophomore to senior year. Simonetti saw Magee’s athletic ability and knew there was a spot for him, but it was the 15-year-old’s maturity that stood out more than anything.

“Jordan has always been the type to be mature from the moment I met him as a sophomore,” Simonetti said. “That’s why we made Jordan a quarterback in high school. He had an arm and we didn’t have a quarterback at the time.”

Magee made a major impact on the offensive side of the ball, but his true passion was defense. He was shifted around to every level throughout his time at Dover throughout his time at Dover, giving his athleticism a chance to shine.

The trick paid off, and Magee became a star for Simonetti’s squad. He was named second-team All-Delaware while leading Dover to a Division I state championship appearance. He even received an offer from Indiana to play quarterback at the Division I level.

But Magee’s passion never changed — he was dead set on playing defense. 

“I say defense is my side of the ball,” Magee said. “I had a better chance of making it somewhere on defense, whether it was safety or linebacker. I just felt like I had a better opportunity, and I had more offers [on defense]”

One of those offers was from Temple, who was fresh off a bowl appearance in former head coach Geoff Collins’ first year.

From the years 2015 to 2019, Temple Football was on the rise. The Owls won 32 games during the four-year span, including an upset victory against Penn State, hosting ESPN College Gameday in 2015 and an American Athletic Championship in 2016.

There were 15 Owls drafted in that span, including future NFL stalwarts: Haason Reddick, Dion Dawkins and Tyler Matakevich. Once Temple had their sights set on Magee, it was a done deal, and he committed in the summer before his senior year. 

“I felt like it was the best opportunity for me to get out of Delaware,” Magee said. “Temple’s rich in culture, the Cherry and White, and just the state of the program during that time. I just felt like all the cards fell in the right place.”


The two-star recruit made the trip up I-95 during the summer of 2019, unsure of his role on the team. Collins recruited Magee to join his roster, but Rod Carey replaced Collins before Magee stepped foot on campus.

The incoming freshman wasn’t fazed by the coaching change as he walked into a loaded linebacker room, learning from Chappelle Russell and current Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Shaun Bradley. Magee played sparingly to start, but the players above him on the depth chart took him under their wing so he’d be ready when his name was called.

“They took me and Yvandy [Rigby] under their wing and taught us the ropes,” Magee said. “They were single digits, so they showed us how you’re supposed to be a leader.”

By the time 2021 rolled around, it was Magee’s time to shine.

He made the starting lineup when the Owls faced Wagner on Sept. 25, 2021 and everything began to click for the redshirt freshman. The game got slower for him, and he was finally able to show his ability. He began to think he could make the NFL.

He finished the season with 54 tackles and entered Edberg-Olson Hall the next season with the biggest honor for an Owl: a single digit.

“He lived it,” said Temple linebackers coach Chris Woods. “There’s a lot of single-digits that come out of here and don’t even finish the program. He did. He took that to heart. He felt a responsibility with that single digit.”

But he didn’t do it alone. Rigby came to Temple in the winter of 2019, and the pair became roommates and best friends, holding each other accountable in the linebacker room and climbing up the ranks.

Magee helped Rigby achieve single-digit status in 2023, and the two had a full-circle moment, becoming the locker room leaders they used to rely on. Rigby followed Magee to the NFL, going undrafted but signing with the Baltimore Ravens soon after. 

“It’s a cycle at Temple,” said linebacker D.J. Woodberry. “Temple has always had great linebackers. It has been a trend. Everything he taught me, I’m trying to teach younger guys, just trying to keep the trend going.”

While Magee was putting up numbers during his tenure, the Owls have won 10 games since he joined the program, racking up three consecutive seasons with just three wins. But most importantly— a Temple player hasn’t been picked in the NFL Draft since 2020 when four Owls heard their names.

Magee broke the drought, while becoming one of the faces of a program going through a slide during his five seasons on North Broad.

Magee declared for the draft after Temple lost to Memphis on Nov. 24, officially starting his process on Dec. 16.

“It’s definitely a blessing in itself to be recognized as one of the top athletes in college football,” Magee said. “To be drafted on the biggest stage is definitely a blessing. Being able to be a beacon of hope, or be an advocate for Temple University as an athlete. Upholding that Temple University to get to the highest standard.”


Once Magee’s Temple career finished, he spent the following months preparing for the draft in Fort Myers, Florida, with Rigby and tight end David Martin-Robinson, who signed an undrafted free agency deal with the Tennessee Titans after the draft. 

Magee was invited to the Senior Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama, but couldn’t compete due to a biceps injury.

Magee was also the only Temple player invited to the NFL Combine but he wasn’t sure if he could participate at first. He was cleared just before the event, and when he walked into Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb. 29, it felt like he was fulfilling a childhood dream.

“It was crazy man,” Magee said. “It’s something you watched as a kid growing up on TV, and just to be in that position is really crazy. [Scouts] just want to get to know you. Once it’s time to perform on the field, you rely on your training, wherever you’re training, and you go out and compete.” 

He didn’t just compete — he shined in front of NFL teams. His 4.55 40-yard dash was in the top 10 of all linebacker times at the event. The performance elevated him from a borderline to surefire draft pick.

The Commanders weren’t the only team after Magee. Organizations clamored for visits with the former Owls linebacker after his performance. He visited with the Broncos, Cowboys, Texans and several other teams. He also had Zoom interviews with linebacker coaches from around the league.

The opportunity to play at the highest level is a dream come true for Magee; he heard his name called by a team just a few hours away from him in the Commanders, but there is still work to be done when the regular season kicks off in September.

“It’s a dream come true,” Magee said. “I haven’t done anything yet. I still got to make the 53-man roster. I just take it with a grain of salt, I’m just going to continue to work.”

He won’t have to do it alone, and Magee is grateful for the opportunity to be the beacon of hope for Temple and his hometown. The city of Dover may not be with him physically, but they’re all pulling for him.

“We’re all very proud of him here at Dover,” Simonetti said. “We’re rooting for him.”

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