The Blind Side. Tough, fast, agile outside linebackers changed football, and along with the blazing offense, they made Oregon into a Top Five team. You can't run an attacking 3-4 defense without linebackers who can run and hit and rush the quarterback.
You want Lawrence Taylor without the cocaine. Fast and a little angry. Able to blow by a defensive tackle or just stand him up and push him off as he stuffs the ball carrier. He has to be tenacious, want the football more than anyone on the field.
Photo left: Jordan Hoiem takes aim on a rival quarterback, and his future (Rodney Yap, mauinow.com photo).
Maybe you heard this story. June of 2012, and Jordan Hoiem is at the end of his sophomore year. He gets invited to the Nike Football Training Camp in Eugene, one of just three kids from Hawaii to earn a spot. 350 to 400 athletes are there. For a kid from the tiny island of Maui, it's a chance to impress scouts and coaches, nab some offers and an opportunity to play college football. Norm Chow, then the new coach at Hawaii, already gave him his first one when he visited spring practice a couple of months ago, but you never know what's out there. It's opportunity. His mom, Carly, a single parent, is watching. They both know what's at stake.
In the Moshofsky Center and on the turf of Autzen Stadium the high school prospects do testing, sprints, break up into position groups and do drills. Jordan is busting hump the way he always does. He's trained seriously since the 8th grade, working with David Kamalani, a former BYU player who's now a firefighter and works with promising island football prospects, a certified Nike Speed Trainer. Only today Jordan's marks aren't much better than he's run in camps on the islands. The coaches and scouts don't know what he's battling through though.
Money, it's gotta be the shoes. The size 13s are too small now. Later he tells Rodney Yap of mauinow.com:
In the beginning my feet hurt, but I blocked it out and kept competing. I didn’t want it to be an issue . . . but doing drills at full speed, all that sprinting took its toll.”
“By the end of the second day it was so sore I had to go see the trainer. When I took off my shoes I had blisters on every single toe. My blisters on both big toes popped and had to be wrapped.
After the clinic Carly takes him out to get new cleats, the size 14s. Two pairs, because they're hard to find on Maui.
The highlight film shows the tackles and the hits, and there are a lot of them. Jordan displays the agility and instincts to develop into a top linebacker who'll start multiple years at the PAC-12 level, but what the scouting reports and video won't tell you about is this extra dimension, the character and resilience, playing with blisters on every toe, a young man who overcome a foot injury that limited him to four games last season, keeping his head despite a traumatic death in his household, playing in a remote place, playing through anything to work toward his dream.
His football mentor Kamalani says there aren't any limits to Jordan Hoiem's dreams. "He has good recovery speed, quick hip rotation getting into coverage. Loves to hit. Sheds blocks well. Good timing and angles between blockers. Pursues well from backside play. His physical strength is deceiving. He reminds me of Junior Seau."
Wow. That's an imposing comparison, but Kamalani backs it up with his knowledge of the game. His son Keloni is a Duck special teams standout who had 22 tackles in 2011, including a forced fumble against Stanford and four stops in the Civil War. Regarding Jordan, the senior Kamalani eyes the size 14 shoes and says, "When he gets to 245 lbs., keeps his speed and gains size in the lower part of his body, he will be one of the best linebackers coming out of the PAC-12. Because competition is his strength, he will adjust to the speed of D-1 fairly well."
The scouting services are late to notice him. He'll blip up after the Oregon offer. Before, he was a four at 247, a three on Scout, unranked on Rivals. That doesn't matter much. They don't know as much about football as Don Pellum and Nick Aliotti.
A look at Jordan's highlight film readily shows what the Oregon staff liked about his ability and potential. What stands out is his great reaction and recognition. He's a player who'll play fast because he plays smart, and clearly loves the game and contact.
DSH Scouting notes:
:26 fights off the block and gets to the ball carrier. Doesn't let the tight end get to his body, maintaining good leverage. Good natural strength, which will only be enhanced by Oregon's plyometric training. Has the frame to add weight without losing quickness.
play 2: Blitz from the outside, an edge rush, which appears to be his specialty, much like Dion Jordan. Gets to the quarterback quickly, and equally important, comes in under control. Finishes the play with a devastating tackle
:35 in these highlights, Jordan is clearly stronger and faster than his competition. Will have an adjustment at the college level when he faces 320-lb. tackles, but has the ferocity and instincts to adjust. Not likely to be an immediate contributor. Will have to grow. But he'll do that.
:44 Another outside edge rush, from olb. Displays a good motor working his way back to the qb. The offensive tackle, again, is not much bigger than he is. Excellent tackling technique--wraps up rather than lunging or reaching out with an arm.
:54 OLB on weakside, an inside zone read play. Hoiem's unblocked, reads and reacts quickly, diving inside to stuff the play for minimal gain. Shows terrific aggression and instincts. He's alert and eager to make a play. Great desire and love for the game.
1:01 Bunched formation. Hoiem on the shortside. Toss play to his side, and he holds his ground at the line of scrimmage, fights off the tight end and moves laterally to square up on the ball carrier. Great feet, good technique. Very well coached. Plays with passion and purpose. Plays the right way. Grabs the runner around the shoulders and throws him down. Wants to physically dominate the opponent. A warrior's mentality. Great makeup for a linebacker, good combination of aggressiveness and discipline. Plays smart as well as physical.
1:15 IZR, and he starts quickly along the line of scrimmage sifting through the play the way a good linebacker seeks and destroys on a running play. Good recognition, a swarming, intense style. Perfect for the Oregon style of defense, loves to run and hit.
1:18 Good balanced, athletic starting stance with his feet under him and his hands in a ready position. Very consistent in his technique. Before the snap you can readily see he is disciplined and very coachable. Quickly reads his man, discards him and jumps into the tackle. Very alert with a natural enthusiasm for the game. Great attitude in competition. As a sophomore, he had 7 tackles in a state playoff game against Punahou, a Hawaii state power, the school of current Duck DeForest Buckner. Hoiem had the 7 tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. In a game his team lost 35-0. The thing is, he never stopped competing. As a scout, you absolutely love to see that.
1:31 Wide side olb versus spread formation. Hawaii schools run a lot of spread, which a great foundation for a defender coming into PAC-12 play where so many of the offenses are wide open. Hoeim's team is backed up to their own 15. Zone read play and Jordan is the read defender. Holds his ground with the good discipline, maintaining leverage on the give, so the qb keeps, and Hoeim is too quick for him, moving laterally to stuff the play at the line.
1:38 Near midfield, spread, wide side olb opposite a tackle. He shoulder fakes, penetrating into the backfield against a tackle, getting the OT's weight on his outside leg, then drives inside him. Takes a good angle to the ball and gets to full speed very quickly. Good eyes and feet make him faster in a football play than he is on a stopwatch, a trait he shares with great Duck linebackers like Michael Clay and Casey Matthews.
1:45 Pistol formation, right hash, weakside LB. Pass play. Recognizes it right away, gets a bump on the slot receiver and ranges into the right flat where he's supposed to be. Pass is a hook route behind him and to his left, but he reads the quarterbacks eyes, makes a full body turn, twisting to get both hands on the ball and break up the pass. Creates a tip drill situation. With other good athletes around him Jordan will create turnovers with his good habits, recognition and athletic ability. He'll be one of those guys who's always around the football, making things happen.
1:54 Near his own goal line. Double wing, single back look with the offensive line in tight. Lined up over LT, it's a stretch play right to the wingback coming around. Hoiem sees the flow of the play right away, works his way across the formation and beats the the wing back to the edge. 3 yard loss.
2:06 Inside zone read gets good yardage up the middle. From OLB he agains takes a good angle to the ball and limits the gain to 8 yards. Won't give up on a play or take plays off. Plays with instincts and reliablity of a good safety from his linebacker position. His speed and agility will help the defense limit explosion plays. Great pursuing linebacker as Kamalani noted. Relentless, determined attitude on the football field.
2:19 Pistol formation. He gets a little upright, a habit he's picked up playing against linemen who can't block him. He fends off his man and walls off the runner, getting a good position to cut off the cutback lane, then eagerly gets in on the tackle. Understands team defense and his responsibility on specific plays and situations, and that's excellent.
2:27 MLB, stunts inside to break up a dive play. To multiple interviewers, he's expressed a desire to gain weight and move inside for more action, and you love that mindset. He wants to be in on every play, and with his agility and speed, at 245 he could blossom into a fierce middle linebacker, although currently he's projected for the hybrid role. With size 14 feet you never know how he'll develop, but his potential is outstanding, and the work ethic and attitude complete the picture. Strength and conditioning coach Kamalani praises his character:
Jordan grew up with just a single parent. From what I observed, he tries to be responsibe by working at a job to pay his own gas for his vehicle and makes every scheduled training he commits himself to. He always shown respect to me and his leaders or coaches. He is fairly quiet yet shows leadership by his examples. What really got my attention is how he was able to overcome adversity. A traumatic death in his house hold, in which he was a part of, would dramatize and scar any kid his age. At the same time an injury that kept him out most of.the.season did not help the situation get any better. In likes of all this, He still went to practice and prepared himself week after week which payed off for him when he got that call to become a Duck.
It IS a great start. Helfrich and the new coaching staff have ramped up the timetable in recruiting with many more offers out there than this time last year, and it's apparent they've maintained the same commitment to character and attitude--this is an outstanding kid and a great prospect.
@nyduck Great read as usual Dale. I really like this kid, he looks huge on film (in height). I don't know the exact number of offered recruits but it came to my attention that Helfrich has heavily recruited the deep south for 2014 and its a significant amount. It was a tweet by one of the Oregon beat writers and I came away shocked that Helfrich is really hitting the trail hard and not afraid to stick his head in with the SEC schools. This staff Helfrich put together can really recruit and once we have another stellar year, these big time southern boys on defense will start coming aka "If you build it they will come". This guy is a stud and I'm excited especially given the success of Buckner last year as a true freshmen! Few people know this but Aliotti and players came out and said Buckner might have been one of the smartest players on the team in a football sense. Aside from his imposing attributes, it's hard to crack the rotation on a stacked defensive line as a true freshmen clearly he is a student of the game. Keep the Hawaiians coming they're incredible workers and have a calm demeanor and maturity that rises to the top!