Draft Q&A with Brevin Jordan: ‘My whole life has been a fight’
His Mom was given one year to live. His Dad suffered a heart attack and passed away. Here's why the Miami (Fla.) tight end believes he's different.
Every school claims to be Running Back U or Tight End U or Quarterback U or Cornerback U but Miami (Fla.) absolutely is the tight end capital of the college football world. You know you’re getting an athletic playmaker at the position here this time of year. For two decades, Jeremy Shockey, Bubba Franks, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow, David Njoku and Chris Herndon have all kept the tradition alive ‘n well.
Next up? Brevin Jordan.
Last season, the 6-foot-3, 247-pounder caught 38 balls for 576 yards with seven touchdowns in just eight games. He’s widely considered the second- or third-best tight end prospect in this draft behind Florida’s Kyle Pitts.
In this recent conversation with Go Long, Jordan breaks down why he’s always been a fighter. His father, who was once drafted in the ninth round of the 1990 draft by the Atlanta Falcons, died from a heart attack when Brevin was in high school. Mom? She was given one year to live after being diagnosed with breast cancer… and she’s still going strong.
Jordan also has a must-read diet tip out there for anybody trying to add 50 pounds in one summer. And his No. 1 passion outside of football may surprise you.
Here’s our full conversation below. To get everything Go Long has to offer, you can subscribe right here, too.
What is your routine really like right now?
Jordan: Right now, I wake up around 7:30, 8 and go to training, come home, take a nap and then go to my second training. And then on Wednesdays and Fridays, I go to my old offensive line coach and receiver coach. So on those days, I’ll have three training sessions.
Start with your game. All of the tight ends who have come through that campus, you can put your numbers up against any of them. What makes you different as a player?
Jordan: I think what makes me different is you can line me up anywhere on the football field — in the backfield, in the slot, H-back, out wide. You can put me anywhere on the field and I’ll make a play. I’m just a natural playmaker. You put the ball in my hands, and I can turn nothing into something.
Which is what you need to have out of that position, right? Whether it’s a corner, a linebacker, a safety, you’re probably pretty confident that you can beat anybody.
Did you look up to any of those tight ends at The U? Do you have a relationship with any of those guys who came through?
Jordan: Yeah, I actually have a relationship with Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey, David Njoku and Chris Herndon. I have a relationship with all of them. They’ve given me great advice and said if I ever need anything — any advice — I can always call them. They’re really there for me, overall.
What advice have they given you? What’s something Greg has passed on?
Jordan: Me and Greg FaceTimed last spring and we were just talking about that next step in life, the NFL, all of that. We weren’t really talking about football. We were talking about life. The greatest advice those guys have given me is to stay patient throughout this process.
Every school has its own claim to fame at a position, but what is it about Miami tight ends? It’s always somebody there.
Jordan: Miami recruits athletic guys at the position. That’s all it’s about. They get them to the school and put them in positions to make plays. That’s what Miami has always done.
You and your life — with your Mom and your Dad — there aren’t many prospects who’ve been through this. When you’re young and introduced to the game by your Dad, what was that like?
Jordan: My pops was a great football player. That’s why I started playing so young, at five years old. Football was introduced to us very early. And it got introduced to us because my Dad’s parents had a big booklet of all his accolades, all these news articles. Once we got hold of that at a young age, we preached, “Let’s keep that going.”
How close were you guys growing up?
Jordan: We were real close. That was my pops. He just got out of my life a little bit. He wasn’t in my life as much when my parents got divorced. But that was still my pops. My pops was always there for us.
That relationship was never diminished or anything.
Your Mom, with her battle, how much of an inspiration has she been?
Jordan: My Mom’s a trooper. She’s a Stage 3 breast cancer survivor. Everything she’s done for me and my brothers, I don’t know how she’s done it. I don’t know how she did it by herself. She sent me and my two brothers to private school (Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas). She’s superwoman. I don’t know how she did it.
How do you explain it? How was she able to keep things moving?
Jordan: For her, we’re her pride and joy. We’re her motivation. So she basically said, “I’m not going to stop.” She kept going and she finally opened up her own real estate business. There’s really no words to how she’s done it.
The doctor gave her three years to live? Is that right?
Jordan: They told her she had a year to live.
Jordan: And she beat it. It’s crazy. The breast cancer started spreading to her lungs. So they were like, “We’re sorry to tell you. But there’s really no chance for you.” She basically said, “Screw you. I’m going to beat it.” I don’t know how she beat it, though.
You’re four years old when she was diagnosed. Did you really know what was going on at the time?
Jordan: At the time, I didn’t really know what was going on. I just knew my Mom was sick because I could see it in her. She started losing her hair. Her fingernails started getting black on them. He toenails started getting black on them. So, I knew she was sick. I didn’t really know the severity of it. I was just a kid.
I imagine they don’t want to scare you guys, either. As a parent, what would you even tell your kid?
Jordan: Yeah, I don’t know how she did it.
So, they gave her one year. It spread that fast?
Jordan: A year to live.
It spread to the lungs? All over?
Jordan: Yeah. So, she had breast cancer in her left breast and then it spread into both of her lungs and then the right breast. So they said, “There’s nothing we can really do.” And this is after the surgery, after they tried to remove it. They said, “There’s nothing we can do,” and they gave her a year to live. And she ended up beating it.
I know she’s a fighter but how is that even possible?
Jordan: The story is crazy to me. She went to a whole new diet. She had no dairy, no red meat, no type of meat at all. She was basically living on an almonds, fruits and vegetables diet. And she stayed on it, got healthy and ended up beating it in a couple months. … It’s never come back.
I never knew what you eat could really have that much of an effect.
Jordan: Yeah, absolutely.
How did this all make you who you are?
Jordan: It made me who I am because, at a young age, you don’t know what’s going on. But as you grow up and you learn the severity of it — and how serious it really is — you just want to pay her back. She was bald-headed and going to every event. She’s sick as hell. You want to pay her back. That’s why I want to get into the league and get some money so I can help her out and pay her back.
Because thinking back to the school you went to and needing food on the table, how did she do it?
Jordan: I think she was able to keep it moving because we were her motivation. She looked at her three little babies and she got stronger. She never gave up. So I think that whole thing — us, being little kids — that was her whole motivation. At the time, my youngest brother was only one year old. Her motivation was, “My youngest baby isn’t even going to remember what his Mom was like.” She kept fighting. She’s a fighter.
You lost your Dad to a heart attack?
Jordan: Yeah, my senior year of high school.
How did that affect you then, at that point in your life?
Jordan: That affected us a lot. It took a toll on us, for sure. That was our pops and it was unexpected. It was one of those things that life throws at you. It was hard for us but we come from a family of fighters. We just kept going. It affected us, obviously. We still hurt today about it. But we just kept fighting. We kept going and kept smiling.
Maybe that’s the difference, the “fighter” in you. What else makes you a fighter, on the field or off the field? How is that really who you are?
Jordan: Everything. My whole life has been a fight. For everything. Everything I got. Even on the football field, people say I’m too short to play tight end. Or, I’m not the best blocker. Stuff like that. So I think my whole life has been about being a fighter. My Mom was a breast cancer survivor. My Dad passed away my senior year of high school. So my whole life, we had to keep fighting for what we got. On the outside, it might look easy. Really, it’s from my Mom making sacrifices and fighting for what she wants and her three babies fighting for what we want.
The plays you make on the field, it’d be pretty easy to say, “Oh, that’s just God-given talent. That’s a freak play athletically.” But there’s a real substance to you and your game. That’s what you’re getting at?
We’re all talking about that other tight end down in Florida: Kyle Pitts. Why should we be talking about you more? Should we be putting your name up there?
Jordan: Nah, don’t put my name up there. I like being under the radar.
To you, what does a dangerous tight end do in the game today? It seems to evolve year to year but when you look at the game today and how you fit into it, what exactly does that weapon do to an offense?
Jordan: The tight end position adds so much value to an offense because when you can put a tight end in the slot, you can put him in the backfield, you can put him outside, teams have to try to match up that mismatch. Once you try to match up with him and put safeties on him or bracket him or double-team him, you leave the outside open for one-on-ones. So with a tight end that’s dangerous, it opens up the field so much. To me, an elite tight end is a guy who plays all over the field. When you look at guys like Travis Kelce, he lines up all over the field. He’s in the backfield, in-line, in the slot, out wide.
So much of Kelce’s game, too, is that improvisation and reactionary stuff with Mahomes. A play breaks down and they see the same thing and he gets into a spot. It’s not like they’re just calling a play, a route and he’s running it. There is so much creativity to the position. Am I looking at a different game? What is that to you?
Jordan: You’re absolutely right. It helps Travis Kelce a lot to have a guy like Patrick Mahomes with a crazy arm. There’s times Patrick Mahomes throws his receivers open with the throws he makes. But the way they play is crazy. They have a lot of fun with the way they play.
He’s a playmaker, man. An overall playmaker. You can line him up anywhere and he gets wiggly. He gets wiggle. He turns into a running back when he gets the ball. So, I think I’m very similar to what Travis Kelce is now and what I can bring to the table.
I’ve heard you use that word before — “wiggly.” What makes you wiggly?
Jordan: I’m not a 6-foot-5 or 6-6, 260-pound tight end. I’m a 6-foot-3, 245-, 250-pound tight end. And I’m a running back when I get the ball in my hands. When I get the ball in my hands, my YAC is… I just turn into a running back.
Were you a running back growing up?
Jordan: I was a running back, literally my whole life, up to high school. Pop Warner. Everywhere. Growing up, ever since I started playing football at the age of 5 up until high school, I was a running back.
That had to be kind of a bummer when your coaches say, “You’re not a running back anymore.”
Jordan: No, because when I went to Gorman, I didn’t want to play running back anymore. I was thinking of longevity. And running backs get hit every play. No matter what they do. Pass block. They get the ball in their hands. So I was like, “I don’t want to get hit every play like that.” So I tried to move to receiver. At the time I was 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. I was skinny as hell. But I was bigger than everybody. This was freshman football. So they moved me to tight end. And then when I moved up to varsity, I gained 50 pounds going into sophomore year that summer.
Fifty pounds in one summer?
Jordan: One summer I gained 50 pounds. My diet was straight turkey and beans. That’s all I ate. Literally, I ate that for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Turkey and beans. And I worked out like crazy and gained 50 pounds in that one summer.
Turkey and beans for breakfast, though?
Jordan: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
That had to taste like crap.
Jordan: Yeah, it was not the best food to eat. It kind of got trashed over a period of time. But I was just eating it because I needed to get the gains in.
I was moving to varsity football as a sophomore so I was like, “I’ve got to gain some weight.” My strength coach, me and him came up with a plan and we got to it. We got straight to it. … He told me to eat a lot of beans and to find meat like turkey or chicken. He told me to eat stuff like that. So I’m like, “Bro, I’m just going to combine it. Turkey and beans.” I combined it in a crazy way.
Lunch meat turkey? Actual turkey?
Jordan: Like a whole turkey.
So, you’d cook up a turkey, slice it up and have it throughout the week?
Jordan: Slice it up and throw in some beans. Yep! That’s the secret.
When you look into your crystal ball, what does the future look like for you? How is Brevin Jordan going to be known for the rest of time?
Jordan: I think I’ll be known as a franchise tight end in a couple years and I’ll be a Pro Bowl tight end. That’s the standard I hold myself to. It takes time to adjust. But if you look at guys like Justin Jefferson and DK Metcalf, rookies come into the league and dominate. If you get adjusted in minicamp and training camp, once its time to play in front of the camera, you can just play football. Once I get adjusted with how everything’s going, the future’s bright for me.
Before I lose you here — away from football — what are some of your interests?
Jordan: I’m a theater major so after the season, I want to try to get into the movies and show my face on camera. Because I think I have the looks for it and I talk very well. I’m going to be an actor. I want to be like The Rock, Shaq. They played their sports but then got into acting. I think that’s what I want to pursue.
Did you do this back in high school? Drama?
Jordan: No, but I did a lot of theater acts at Miami my freshman year up until I left. Classes. I did plays. I did a lot of stuff at Miami. That’s when I really got into it and started to enjoy it.
What kind of actor would you be?
Jordan: I want to be an all-around actor. Put me in action movies. I think I’m a funny dude, so put me in comedy movies. You can put me in anything.
Like The Rock?
Jordan: Exactly, exactly. Like The Rock.
Past draft profiles at Go Long:
‘Numbers don’t lie':’ UB’s Jaret Patterson believes he is head of class at RB
Ihmir Smith-Marsette: ‘I definitely feel like I can take over the NFL’
Could Josh Imatorbhebhe be this draft’s DK Metcalf?
D'Wayne Eskridge is the X-Factor: 'I can see it in guys’ faces: They’re scared'