Entering last fall, Frederick Douglass High School rising senior Quinton Jordan was playing in a new position. Now, a year later, some would say he's one of the best cornerbacks in the county.
As a freshman in 2011 on the junior varsity team, Jordan played quarterback and safety. And going into his sophomore year, he said he wanted to play linebacker, but was too small. So the coaching staff put him at safety.
“It didn't work out,” Jordan said. “And then they put me at corner. So I was a big corner and it came regularly to me. I got used to it so quick.”
At 6-foot and 175 pounds, Jordan is bigger than most cornerbacks and he played like it as a junior, recording 73 tackles, 11 pass deflections and three interceptions.
Watch a few video highlights from his games and it's clear why he wanted to play linebacker: He likes to hit.
“As I came up, I played in Peppermill [Boys and Girls Club], everybody was skinny and small,” Jordan said. “So, it determined whether you could tackle, hit or do anything. So, I played line the whole time. I never touched the ball. I never played in the secondary. So, tackling, it was already a thing. I didn't have a problem tackling. And when size came with it, I just got better.”
Douglass coach J.C. Pinkney said that Jordan's effective tackling allows him to move around.
“He can help us out in the run game as well by putting him to that side of the field where a team has a high propensity to run the football,” Pinkney said. “And then in the passing game, obvious passing situations, we can match him up with the team's best receiver.”
This summer, Jordan, has been working with former Eleanor Roosevelt cornerback Colin Nelson on his techniques.
Nelson has had a long journey after graduating high school in 2003, including stops at McDaniel College, the University of Maryland, College Park, the Indoor Football League and most recently — two years ago — with the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul.
Now, he's back working in Maryland and regularly volunteers at camps, which is how he met Jordan.
Nelson said the first thing that stuck out about Jordan was his physical presence.
“Off of that, what really drew me to him was his understanding and patience in the press technique,” Nelson said. “That's a hard technique to play, especially at the high school level, because a lot of coaches aren't coaching it properly or it's just hard to play. So, I'm looking at this kid and I'm like, 'This kid really knows how to use his hands. He's using his feet and he's moving his body. He's beating kids up at the line.'”
Nelson said that Jordan can be one of the best cornerbacks in the state. Although he joked that he catches flack as a Roosevelt graduate helping a Douglass player, he said he wants to help Jordan improve from a mental standpoint.
The work they have done together this summer appears to be paying off. Jordan was named defensive back co-MVP at the Northern Virginia and D.C. Region National Underclassmen Combine. He also received an invitation to the Nike Combine and has drawn some attention from Maryland, North Carolina State and Towson, according to Nelson.
“Colin, he pulled me off to the side. Started talking to me, saying I could be good,” Jordan said. “I just got to get some little stuff down like my footwork, eye discipline, stuff like that.”
He added that there is already noticeable improvement this summer in the things that they've worked on.
Pinkney added that Jordan's potential has no ceiling.
“The sky's the limit for that kid,” Pinkney said. “Because he loves the game. He's going to continue to play and work and try to get better. And that's what you need to do.”
“I just want to be able to earn a scholarship — play with my team, championship goals — and that's it. Hard work,” said Jordan, who believes Douglass has a legitimate chance to be better than last year's 8-3 team. “We got a lot of [veterans] coming back and it's going to be good. I can see the difference between last year and this year.”