Matthew Jordan is a smart young man.
He already has earned his degree in business administration from Georgia Tech and will be in grad school this fall. He’s a two-time member of the ACC’s academic honor roll, and he’s well-prepared for a career once his college football career is over.
So, Mr. Jordan, meet Mr. Paul Johnson, the hiring manager for the job you really want. Now, please tell him why you’re the best qualified of the four remaining candidates for that job?
“You’ve got to have a good resume, and I think I have that,” Jordan said. “I’ve got a lot of experience in the offense. I’ve proved it against Virginia Tech and won. I think you just have to show your experience.”
Jordan is absolutely correct about one thing. He has more experience than any of the other Georgia Tech quarterback candidates. Jordan, a junior, has three years of experience running the offense and probably has taken more reps than any of the other three contenders. TaQuon Marshall, who entered the preseason as the No. 2 quarterback, has played two games at the position. Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones are both redshirt freshmen with no game experience.
But more than anything is the fact that Jordan has done it before. He was able to take a team to Virginia Tech and come away with a win, silencing the crowd in Blacksburg.
“That was huge for me,” Jordan said. “It’s the loudest place I’ve ever been to. It’s not an easy game for me, especially starting off.”
Jordan is still considered the frontrunner to replace Justin Thomas and be the starter when Georgia Tech takes the field against Tennessee on Labor Day. The competition is still theoretically open, although Paul Johnson says he knows who the starter will be, even if he hasn’t shared it with the rest of the world and may wait until kickoff to make the announcement.
In addition to his lone start a year ago, Jordan has plenty of experience as the designated short-yardage quarterback. Since he was a head taller and much larger (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) than Thomas, Jordan often was used near the goal line to punch it in. He scored two touchdowns in that role as a freshman and scored six touchdowns as a sophomore.
But the jewel in his crown, the accomplishment that separates him from the others, was how he performed against Virginia Tech a year ago. In a pivotal game that helped pave the way for a trip to the TaxSlayer Bowl, Jordan stepped in for the injured Thomas and led an offense that was missing three other starters to a 30-20 win.
On that afternoon, Jordan ran 32 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed two passes for 34 yards. He finished the season with 65 carries for 243 yards.
Jordan’s only holdup has been his health. He hurt his foot in the spring and needed surgery, which required him to sit out all of spring practice. Jordan said he simply planted wrong and hurt it.
“It was frustrating, but it could have been a lot worse,” he said.
He did admit that his patience was tested during the rehabilitation period. He was tempted to do too much, but the Georgia Tech training staff was there to pull in the reins and keep him in line.
“I’m not a patient guy,” he said “I wanted to do a lot more. Coach really helped me. We had a really good plan and we stuck to the plan. We didn’t rush. If I’d done it myself …”