As a redshirt freshman, Jamire Jordan had a very good season for Fresno State, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards and tying for the lead in touchdown receptions. He had all of that in the bank when, this summer, he asked about changing his uniform number.
Ordinarily, such a request is not a big deal. Ask and unless that new number is retired, it’s easy. Boom, done. And, again, Jordan did have some standing with those 46 receptions, 540 receiving yards and five touchdowns in 2015.
But he asked to wear No. 1, which is why when the Bulldogs opened fall camp Thursday he was wearing No. 91 and could be stuck with it for the rest of his sophomore season.
“It’s something I have going on with” offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau, Jordan said. “I asked him if could I have No. 1, and he said I have to wear No. 91 all of camp and show me something.”
Basically, Jordan has to earn it over the next four weeks on the practice field.
If you wear No. 1, generally speaking, you better be a guy that shows up every day and does things right and is a playmaker.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter on making sophomore wide receiver Jamire Jordan earn the right to switch to jersey No. 1
Kiesau did not meet with the media after the Bulldogs’ first practice, but coach Tim DeRuyter backed the play of his assistant with a good laugh.
“Eric and I hadn’t talked about any policy about wearing No. 1 because if you wear No. 1, generally speaking, you better be a guy that shows up every day and does things right and is a playmaker,” DeRuyter said. “Isaiah Burse was a perfect example. Now, he was wearing No. 1 before I got here, but he lived up to it and the past couple of years since Isaiah has been gone nobody has worn it.
“So, Jamire had the conversation with Coach Kiesau and he brought it to me. He said, ‘Hey, I have an idea, what if we put him in No. 91 and if he produces enough in camp and earns No. 1 then he’ll be No. 1. Otherwise, the entire year, he’s going to have to explain to people why he’s No. 91.’ ”
That’s what they did, and Jordan happily stepped up to the challenge.
Catching the last No. 1 will take some doing – Burse finished his career in 2013 as the Bulldogs’ career leader in all-purpose yards with 5,873, passing Bernard Berrian (5,828) late in his senior season.
But Jordan is off to a good start. He had 910 all-purpose yards last season – 540 receiving, 315 on kickoff returns and 55 rushing. Burse had 839 all-purpose yards as a freshman.
He also is healthy, having missed spring practices with a hip injury, and ready to stake his claim to No. 1 – his high school number – after wearing No. 2 last season.
“Hard work, just show the coaches what I can do, be out here every day putting in work,” he said.
In the first practice in camp, Jordan and the Bulldogs’ passing game had a much different look.
The arms are there, for starters, with redshirt freshman Chason Virgil, senior Zach Kline, freshman Quentin Davis and junior Christian Rossi zipping the football in 7-on-7’s and 11-on-11’s.
The receiver corps flashed, top to bottom.
Jordan was a big part and will have to continue to be if he is to exchange that No. 91 jersey.
As far as burst and explosiveness, he’s probably faster and more explosive than Davante.
DeRuyter, comparing Jordan to ex-Bulldogs and current NFL receiver Davante Adams
“For him, I think it’s a little more consistency,” DeRuyter said. “He flashed a lot last year as a freshman and showed his potential. I think the next step for him is, he has to see himself as a dominant player in this league, and for most people anyways there’s a process where you have to go out and do it and feel good about yourself, get stronger, before you feel like, ‘Hey, there’s not anybody that can guard me.’
“I think back to Davante Adams, he had it naturally. As a redshirt freshman he didn’t think there was anybody that could guard him. Then his sophomore year he came back, I mean, he was very dominant just because of how he carried himself, how he trained, how he played. Physically, Jamire is not where Davante is as far as thickness and strength. But as far as burst and explosiveness, he’s probably faster and more explosive than Davante. He’s got to look at that as that’s my ticket to be a dominant player and keep pushing himself so he practices kind of like he did today every single day.”
That, Jordan said, is the challenge. “Hopefully, on game day, I’ll be in No. 1,” he said.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State football key dates
Monday, Aug. 8: First day in full pads
Saturday, Aug 13: Scrimmage No. 1 (open to public)
Saturday, Aug. 20: Scrimmage No. 2
Friday, Aug. 26: Scrimmage No. 3
Saturday, Sept. 3: Season opener at Nebraska, 5 p.m. PDT
Home games in CAPS
Sept. 3: at Nebraska, 5 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Sept. 10: SACRAMENTO STATE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17: at Toledo, noon (ESPN3)
Sept. 24: TULSA, 1:30 p.m. (MWN)
Oct. 1: at UNLV, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 8: at Nevada, TBA (ESPN network TBD)
Oct. 14: SAN DIEGO STATE, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 22: at Utah State, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 28: AIR FORCE, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Nov. 5: at Colorado State, 12:30 p.m. (ROOT SPORTS/MWN)
Nov. 12: BYE
Nov. 19: HAWAII, 4 p.m.
Nov. 26: SAN JOSE STATE, 12:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Dec. 3: Mountain West Championship, TBA