BOWLING GREEN — Kamar Jorden was a big-time receiver in high school, but not a big-time student. So he became a big-time receiver in junior college hoping to prove that he could both crack the books and crack a Division I college football lineup.
Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson made him wait a year to do the latter.
It is unusual for a JUCO player to redshirt after arriving at the next destination, especially in the Mid-American Conference where transfer players are expected to provide immediate help.
Clawson and the Falcons had no immediate needs. It was 2009 and BG had a senior stud named Freddie Barnes and a pretty decent supporting cast of receivers, guys like senior Chris Wright as well as juniors Calvin Wiley and Tyrone Pronty.
“But it was one position where you could see we were soon going to fall off a cliff,” Clawson said. “There was not one player in the program we were certain would be ready to play at this level when those guys left.”
That would be now … the 2011 season. And, yes, there was one player. But, as Clawson put it, BG had to “build a bridge” from Jorden’s arrival in ‘09 to the ‘11 season. So the JUCO transfer was red-shirted.
You could say the plan worked. Barnes stayed healthy in ‘09 and set an NCAA record with 155 receptions for 1,770 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Nobody was going to fill those shoes, but Kamar Jorden tried. Finally turned loose a year ago as part of a receiving corps that included returnees Wiley and Pronty, Jorden proved himself by leading the MAC with 96 receptions.
“The whole season was like a dream come true,” Jorden said. “I worked my whole life to get there, to be a Division I player, to prove myself. It was really big. I knew I was replacing Freddie, but I didn’t look at it that way or put that kind of pressure on myself. I just wanted to prove I could play, period.”
Mission accomplished. His 1,109 receiving yards represented the third best season in school history. Jorden caught at least five passes in 10 different games — he reached double digits in passes caught three times — and surpassed 100 receiving yards in five games while working mostly with a red-shirt freshman quarterback in Matt Schilz.
The 6-foot-3, 196-pound Jorden feels his red-shirt season at BG was a blessing, not a setback. He is quite candid about what really delayed his arrival as a Division I player.
“I had real bad grades,” he said. “In high school, college coaches would walk in, see my grades, then turn around and walk right back out. That was on me. Going to Hudson Valley [Community College] was a second chance and a last chance. I knew I had to do better. If I didn’t do it [in the classroom] there, I’d never get a chance to do it here.”
Jorden, from Darby, Pa., spent two years at Hudson Valley and set school records with 60 catches for 938 yards his second season.
After a year off at BG, he picked right up where he left off.
The Falcons did not, though, going from seven wins during his red-shirt season to a 2-10 mark last fall.
“I think the whole team has a good feeling about this year,” Jorden said.
“I think we’re ready to win. We have a lot of talent and the freshman class is the best since I’ve been here. Everybody has been doing all the right things, on and off the field. We all understand there’s no slacking, no days off. I think we’re ready to win now.”
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.