Ever since star freshman running back Ty Jordan tragically passed away last December, Utah football players and coaches have vowed to dedicate the 2021 season to his memory.

As the campaign kicked off Thursday in the first game at the newly expanded Rice-Eccles Stadium during the Utes’ game against Weber State, the school, and the crowd, paid tribute to Jordan in memorable and emotional fashion. 

During the break between the first and second quarter, after a 90-minute lightning delay and a torrential downpour, a sign at Portal 22 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City was memorialized in Jordan’s honor. 

Jordan’s family members who were in attendance were recognized during the brief ceremony as the crowd roared with approval. 

During the break between the third and fourth quarters, Jordan was remembered with a video tribute featuring his highlights from last season. It was narrated by coach Kyle Whittingham, who asked the crowd for, instead of a moment of silence for Jordan, a “moment of loudness” to cheer for Jordan, which fans weren’t able to do last year due to the pandemic. 

Jordan and others with ties to Utah football who passed away recently were honored prior to kickoff with a moment of silence — coach Jim Fassel, coach John Pease, broadcaster Bill Marcroft, former player Larry Wilson, booster Bob Garff and university employee Shaun Willis. 

Weber State also honored Jordan with “LLTJ” decals on its helmets.

Jordan died last Christmas night in Denton, Texas, as a result of an accidental self-inflicted gun shot wound.

On Tuesday, Utah announced that sophomore cornerback Aaron Lowe is the recipient of the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship.

Both Lowe and Jordan attended West Mesquite High School in Texas and were close friends.

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The team voted for the player who would receive the scholarship, which was given after fall camp. 

Lowe decided to change his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 22, in honor of Jordan, who wore No. 22 as a freshman in 2020. 

The scholarship honors Jordan, who rushed for 597 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman.

According to the school, the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship “will be awarded to a student-athlete in the football program who exemplifies the inspiring qualities that Jordan displayed through his work ethic, positivity and perseverance through adversity.”

Coach Kyle Whittingham and his wife, Jamie, made the first gift to the fund in the amount of $100,000.

Those desiring to donate to the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship may do so through a secure online portal accessible at this link.

Jordan earned Pac-12 Offensive Freshmen of the Year honors and was named Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year by The Associated Press.

Jordan, who averaged 119.4 rushing yards per game — No. 1 among the nation’s freshmen and ninth among all FBS players — was also named a Freshman All-American by The Athletic and 247Sports.

In five games last fall, Jordan burst onto the scene and led the Utes in carries (83), rushing yards (597), rushing touchdowns (6) and all-purpose yards (723) with 11 receptions for 126 yards.

Texas transfer quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson was scheduled to work out with Jordan for the first time as Utah teammates in Texas shortly after Christmas. The workout was supposed to take place just days after Jordan’s death, the following Monday.

Jackson had known Jordan since Jordan was in the eighth grade. They played against each other growing up.

“When I first saw him, he was short, stocky and fast. I hadn’t seen nobody like him,” Jackson recalled. “I called him ‘Little Hercules’ because he was so big and fast.”

The team flew to Dallas in early January for a memorial service at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

“I thought the program, starting with (athletic director) Mark Harlan and the university did a great job of, first, making everybody available to fly out to his funeral. They paid for the whole thing. I thought that was amazing. … For the healing and grieving process, that was amazing by them,” said linebacker Devin Lloyd. “As a team, (Ty Jordan is) on our mind all of the time. It’s not something that you forget. He’s definitely going to be with us this season and the rest of our lives. … His locker is completely retired and there are constant highlights of him playing as we walk into the facility. You see him every day.”

Said junior wide receiver Britain Covey: “Ty was with us for only six months, and yet such a huge part of his identity was Utah football. If you were to see his funeral, you would have thought he was a Utah football player for 10 years. It was really cool. Even more than just Ty is what Ty represents now to the team — just what Utah Football represents as a family. I’m sure many teams feel that way, but we really do.”