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Jordan Harold’s unique football story shapes his success on field

“If you watch him practice, there’s no doubt why he has the respect that he does,” head coach Barry Odom said.

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Jordan Harold (55) rushes the quarterback in Missouri's 72-43 week one victory over Missouri State.

Kate Seaman/Staff Photographer

Oct. 10, 2017

It’s hot at the Daniel J. Devine Pavilion, the indoor practice facility of Missouri football, after a Tuesday practice.

Players look tired. Given the temperature and the rigor of the practice that they just endured, it’s easy to understand why.

Among the fatigued players, one smiling face stands out. Senior Jordan Harold radiates positivity as he converses with teammates and helps coaches move equipment off the field.

This instance is reflective of Harold’s approach to football as a whole. He has become known around the Missouri football community for his hard work and positive attitude.

“When you’re doing what you love, it’s hard to leave that field sometimes,” Harold said.

Harold’s love for football has grown throughout his unique journey to Missouri.

He began his football career at McCluer North High School in Florissant, Missouri. Despite four standout seasons, Harold’s underwhelming 6-foot-2 frame at the defensive end position yielded few collegiate offers.

He earned all-conference accolades in three of his seasons at McCluer North, leading the team to three consecutive playoff appearances.

Eventually, he accepted a scholarship offer to play football at Division II football powerhouse Northwest Missouri State. Harold starred during his time with the Bearcats and was an integral part of their 2015 NCAA Championships run. Despite the Bearcats’ success, Harold’s desire to become a Division I athlete persisted.

“There was a lot of stuff going on with me internally, emotionally, and I wasn’t happy with my placement where I was,” Harold told the Kansas City Star in August.

Harold drove to Columbia in the summer of 2015 with his mother to locate the Missouri coaches and make his case for a spot on the team.

At the end of their drive, Harold crossed paths with Missouri’s then-defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski in the parking lot of the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex.

The meeting with Kuligowski ultimately solidified Harold’s decision to take a leap of faith. Soon after, Harold decided to transfer to Missouri as a walk-on and achieve his dream of playing Division I football.

After redshirting in 2015 to comply with NCAA transfer rules, Harold began his Missouri career without a scholarship as a walk-on athlete.

“It’s all about work,” Harold said about walking onto the football team. “As a walk-on, it’s about setting a standard for yourself that no one else has.”

Soon after, he impressed then- first-year head coach Barry Odom enough in spring and fall camp to earn two starts on the Tigers’ defensive line during the 2016 season, including the team’s first game at West Virginia.

“We try to provide the opportunity for every player in this program to become a great player, graduate from school and be a great teammate,” Odom said after the team’s win against Missouri State on Sept. 2. “Jordan’s done all that.”

Playing in all 12 contests last year, Harold showed his potential to the Missouri coaching staff, and earned a scholarship.

In 2017, Harold was voted as a captain by his teammates at the beginning of the season. He was elected alongside Missouri mainstays that include junior quarterback Drew Lock, junior offensive lineman Paul Adams and senior linebacker Eric Beisel.

“I feel like I can add more to the team, be able to give more of myself,” Harold told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch prior to the 2017 season.

He had leadership experience before his election to captaincy in 2017. At McCluer North, he was named a captain as well.

Though he has come to be known by his leadership and work ethic, Harold has proven he is much more than a fascinating story. He has consistently recorded strong outings, recording 16 tackles and one sack this season.

Today, Harold’s presence and performance yields tremendous respect.

“If you watch him practice, there’s no doubt why he has the respect that he does,” Odom said. “He’s a tremendous kid.”

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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