They say records are meant to be broken – and they are correct.
On October 19, Richard Jordan Jr. tallied 25 tackles in a 49-19 loss to Washburn.
You read that correctly: 25 tackles.
It puts the sophomore linebacker atop the school’s single-game record list for tackles, a list that also includes his father, MSSU and MIAA Hall of Famer, Richard Jordan.
The elder Jordan (whose nickname is ‘Dirt’) ranks in the top-5 of that list (18 vs. Southwest Baptist in 1994 and 20 vs. Pittsburg State in 1996). Junior (whose nickname is ‘JoJo’) flew by Pops, as well as former Lion great Ron Burton (21 vs. Missouri S&T in 1993), to take the top spot.
“I remember telling him once that one day when I go there I’m going to break (the record),” said JoJo. “He laughed at me. And I was like why are you laughing, I’m serious. He said, ‘You’re named after me so if you do, there’s still going to be a Richard Jordan at the top.’”
By the way, the feat wasn’t a fluke.
JoJo recorded 18 tackles in the season opener against Nebraska-Kearney back on September 5.
What’s more – his dad was here to see it. He was also here for the Washburn game. In fact, he’s here for every game.
“I am just so proud of him,” said Jordan. “He’s worked hard and he’s figuring everything out. Once you figure it out at linebacker the game slows down.”
It worked for Jordan during his playing career at Southern. He started out playing defensive end for the Lions and was part of the 1993 MIAA Championship team. He later moved to linebacker where, in 1996, he was named the MIAA Defensive MVP, a year after being named Co-Defensive MVP of the league. (Coincidentally, Richard’s father, Ray, played both positions in college and is a 3-time Hall of Famer in the state of Oklahoma as a player and coach.)
“It’s in his (JoJo’s) DNA,” said Richard. “My kids can play the game of football.”
His oldest daughter, Savian, had been playing at Georgia State (Richard and his wife, Francois, live in Alpharetta, Georgia – a suburb north of Atlanta) before making the decision to focus on school and a modeling career. Treston is a high school sophomore who plays free safety on the JV football team (and also wants to play for MSSU), while the couple’s youngest daughter, Dominae, is a standout volleyball player has a high school freshman.
As for his numerous trips to Joplin from Alpharetta, well, having a connection helps.
“My wife works for Delta so most of the time when we come back, we fly standby. A couple of hours to Springfield, rent a car, make that drive and we’re there.”
As for JoJo’s continued success on the football field, he points to something he did before the season even started.
“I gained 20 pounds during the off-season,” he said. “Not only am I bigger and stronger, I’m a lot faster. And the game has slowed down for me a lot more. The coaches are big on repetition so that’s helped with muscle memory. I also watch a lot of film so I feel I’m very prepared.”
He’s also well aware of Pops on the sideline – always has been.
“It’s a thing we’ve had since middle school and high school. I’ll hear him and look over. Sometimes I already know what he’s thinking or what he’s going to say to me.”
“I have hand signals or I can give him a certain look when it comes to check downs or maybe something like a quarterback draw,” said Richard. “I know the game and I can see things from that position. You learn things when you break down film every week on guys like Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.”
Which, of course, is what Richard did for a number of years after being selected by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the 1997 NFL Draft.
But football beyond college hasn’t been discussed between father and son.
“Haven’t touched it,” said Richard. “I want him to be the best he can be every day and dominate this league, but I also want him to enjoy his four years. Mine went by so fast. That’s why I feel blessed to be able to watch him here. I’m seeing what my parents saw. It’s like God is replaying it for me because my time flew by.”
There’s no doubt that JoJo makes his father proud, but it’s something non-football-related that really pushes the needle.
“Jared (Bruggeman – director of athletics at MSSU) told me a story one day about how he was approached on campus by a professor who couldn’t stop talking about how nice and well-mannered my son was. That’s what it’s all about. I mean, all those tackles are great, but that’s what makes me proud. That’s way better than any stat on a football field.”
*Richard Jordan Jr. also had another stellar performance in the season finale against Pittsburg State. He recorded a team-high 18 tackles – giving him a total of 119 for the season, moving him into a tie for 7th place on the school’s single-season list. That number was tops in the MIAA this season, as well as the 7th-best in the nation.
He was named to the second-team of the All-MIAA squad.