It was November 28, 2009.
Ben Hill-Griffin Stadium was packed with 90,907 fans, all there to take part in not only the annual Sunshine State Showdown between the University of Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles, but also to be able to witness, in person, quarterback Tim Tebow’s swan song in the Swamp.
Tebow shone with his usual aplomb, passing for 221 yards while rushing for 90 more as the Gators won 37-10.
After the clock had ticked down, Tebow took off on a final victory lap around the stadium, high fiving fan after fan who would forever remember Timmy’s last game at home.
One of those 90,907 fans was a young Tyler Jordan.
The 8th grader had made the short trip from Jacksonville to see his beloved Gators play against their bitter rivals — a rival that Jordan himself had cheered for during the first few years of his life — before his mom, the Gator fan, got to him that is.
As the mass of people began to crawl out of the stadium to leave, Jordan was among them, looking around at a campus that he was starting to hope to one day call home.
“I remember thinking to myself this is a place I’d like to be,” Jordan recalls.
“Whether it be academically or athletically and obviously now it’s a dream come true and I’m going there.”
At that time, football wasn’t necessarily even a part of the equation.
After spending years in Pop Warner ball, Jordan was having trouble making weight for his division so he shaded off football and devoted time to just basketball and baseball.
But fate saw something different in Tyler’s future; saw being the operative word.
“I got hit in the eye my freshman year with a baseball.”
And naturally that can cause some problems.
Following surgery, Tyler found his way back into the weight room. Once there, he spent his time focusing solely on getting stronger. And it paid off.
Now standing at 6’4”, 270lbs, Jordan ranks as ESPNs number three center in the country.
The accolades and attention are still a little surprising to the Bishop Kenny High School offensive lineman.
His first offer came from North Carolina, and after that, they just “started piling in”, says Tyler. Then came the one that meant the most…the one that he’d been dreaming of ever since that late November night in 2009.
“It was kind of an unreal feeling. I never really expected to get offered by Florida. I actually really never expected to get as much recruiting attention as I did,” Jordan humbly admits.
Once the offer was presented, Jordan went one weekend to visit, made sure he was still comfortable on campus, and returned the next weekend to commit.
Now his skill as a center has the chance to immediately be handy to a team that has seen two different centers graduate in as many years. Head coach Jim McElwain says he’s having the guards learn to snap in addition to Cam Dillard, but is also keeping an eye on the incoming Jordan.
So far he likes what he sees.
“He can bend, and he’s got great feet and snap. He’s also a guy that’s highly intelligent and [has great] football IQ. His days are bright, bright looking forward.”
All of that means the competition is open for a new Gator center, and Jordan is ready for the challenge.
“They want me to come in and fight for a starting spot,” he explains, “so I want to come in and play early.”
As the summer begins, followed by fall camp and then eventually football season, Tyler Jordan will be there on the campus he’d dreamed of being at for six years. Practicing, preparing and living his dream with the Florida Gators.