Harold lives dream playing for Missouri football

Missouri junior defensive lineman Charles Harris: “[Jordan] has always had the pass rush ability but he’s probably the smartest person on the D-line.”
Jordan Harold practices on Aug. 23 in Columbia.

It was July of 2015, and Aleshia Jordan did not want to play the waiting game.

Her son, Jordan Harold, had just finalized a faith-inspired decision to transfer from NCAA Division II football power Northwest Missouri State to the University of Missouri in hopes of playing football for the Tigers. How was Harold going to do that? In Jordan’s eyes, it began with a drive to Columbia at that exact instant.

“I said, ‘if you’re going to do this, let’s go to Mizzou right now’” Jordan said. “He kind of looked at me and was like, ‘right now?’ And I was like, ‘yes, right now.’ So, he put on his Timberlands and we drove.”

This story is somewhat reminiscent of a Hollywood script as Harold, who hails from Ferguson, Missouri, and stands 6-foot-2, is now competing for starting spot on one of the nation’s top defensive lines.

Although he had longed to play for Missouri coming out of McCluer North High School in St. Louis, the black and gold did not have mutual interest, so Harold took an unofficial visit to Illinois and fielded interest from Division I schools like Ball State. Ultimately, Harold accepted a scholarship to play for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Missouri — a school that’s won two national championships in five years.

Harold redshirted his freshman year and then, in 2014, he appeared in two games and recorded just one tackle for the Bearcats. That following summer, Harold — along with two others from Northwest Missouri State — were selected to play for USA’s U-19 football team in Kuwait.

“That experience was amazing,” Harold said. “I met some coaches there and they told me my ability and how great they [thought] I could be. Some coaches even told me they thought I could go to the league and hearing that kind of had an influence of me transferring.”

Combine that success with the fact he was unhappy living in a town oh-so-different from St. Louis in Maryville, and with his dream hanging out on the horizon, Harold decided to take the leap of faith and transfer to Mizzou.

When he first told Jordan, she wanted her son to understand the risk he might be taking, one that’s included leaving a Northwest Missouri State football team that won the 2015 national championship and is a heavy favorite once again in 2016.

“I tell all my kids that it’s so important to be happy and to live your life with, if anything, ‘oh-wells’ but never ‘what ifs,’” Jordan said. “As long as he was able to deal with consequences of the choices and as long as he was going after a dream that he believes in, I told him he needed to do what he had to do.”

So they drove and, upon arrival on campus more than a year ago in July, Harold and his mother planned on simply going up to the offices and speaking to anyone. That was until Harold spotted former Missouri defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, walked up to him and introduced himself.

Harold has termed the experience since then “a whirlwind.” At first, Harold said he had to come in, prove himself and prove everybody wrong. Early on, those such as preseason All-Southeastern Conference second-team selection Charles Harris took notice.

“He’s a hard worker, he’s right there on my level,” Harris said. “He’s always had the pass rush ability, but he’s probably the smartest person on the D-line. He’s going to make great plays this year and he’s somebody I’m looking forward to playing with.”

In hearing about his success at Missouri, Aaron Brady, who coached that USA U-19 team in Kuwait and is the now coach at Malvern Prep in Philadelphia, said he “is not surprised.”

“We won a gold medal [in Kuwait] with him as the leader of our team,” Brady said. “The way he carried himself as a gentleman and the way he played the game, I’m just very happy for him.”

Jordan said she’s been inspired by her son’s success, calling him a “genuinely great guy.” When she first heard the news that her son was competing for a starting spot, she cried. They were tears of happiness and tears of joy knowing her son’s visions are taking shape.

“Whatever he decides to do, he’s going to excel at it and always do his very best,” Jordan said. “That’s just [him].”

Edited by Theo DeRosa | tderosa@themaneater.com

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