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‘Heartbreaking’: Utah, sports communities react to news of Ty Jordan’s death

Utah Utes running back Ty Jordan (22) battles for more yardage as Utah and Oregon State play a college football game at Rice Eccles stadium in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. Utah won 30-24.
Utah Utes running back Ty Jordan (22) battles for more yardage as Utah and Oregon State play a college football game at Rice Eccles stadium in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020. Utah won 30-24.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Members of both the Utah and sports communities came together on social media to remember Utah running back Ty Jordan, after news broke Saturday morning about his death.

Jordan died in what police believe was an accidental shooting in Denton, Texas. He joined the Utes program this season as a true freshman out of Mesquite, Texas. Jordan was 19.

Those close to program discuss his influence at Utah

People close to the Utah football program — from coaches to alumni to the media — discussed the impact Jordan — the 2020 Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year — made during his short time at Utah through posts on Twitter.

Several people recalled Jordan’s character, both on and off the field. The Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth said, “Watching him compete was a joy but hearing about the type of man he was from those who knew him is what I’ll recall most.”

In August, Jordan’s mother, Tiffany, died after battling cancer.

“Ty Jordan lost his mother earlier this year. Ty told me he wanted to make her proud with his play on the field. Mission accomplished young man. I’m just sad that we won’t get to see more of you. Rest In Peace #22,” Utes play-by-play announcer Bill Riley wrote on Twitter.

Jordan led Utah with 597 yards and six rushing touchdowns in a truncated 2020 season. That included rushing for over 100 yards in each of the Utes’ final three games.

“Fell in love watching u put the team on ur back this season. The fearlessness u walked in the door with doesn’t come by often. We will miss u bro. 22 Ty Jordan,” former Utah linebacker Brian Blechen said.

Jordan’s position coach at Utah, running backs coach Kiel McDonald, showed appreciation for the time he spent with Jordan.

“Man I miss you Ty but, I know nothing I can say or do will bring you back because if I could I would. Lord knows I would. Love you boy. I am thankful that God allowed me to coach you and have you in my life. I am blessed for our countless hours, days, and months together,” McDonald wrote on Twitter.

Utah’s all-time leading rusher, Zack Moss, who’s now a rookie with the Buffalo Bills, said he interacted a few times with Jordan. “We we’re blessed to see him play the game & this one hurts! 22 forever a legend!! Go spend some more time with your mom bro,” Moss said.

Other schools share condolences

Schools from around the state of Utah showed their support for Jordan’s family and the Utah program.

“Kyle, Mark, Utah coaches, players and fans. My heart goes out to all of you and I pray for you at this time of Ty’s passing. Much love Utes. Peace be with Ty’s family and loved ones,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said. Cougar senior linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi wrote, “Rest in love Ty Jordan. Love the way he played the game of football. Fly high King.”

The Pac-12 community also reached out. USC coach Clay Helton said “Ty was as special a person as he was a player,” while Oregon coach Mario Cristobal wrote, “Our condolences go out to the loved ones of Ty Jordan and the entire Utah football family. R.I.P.”

Texas coach Tom Herman recruited Jordan when he was in high school at West Mesquite High. Jordan originally committed to Texas before ultimately signing with Utah.

“We are heartbroken to hear of Ty’s passing. We got to know him well during the recruiting process,” Herman said in a statement shared on the Texas football official Twitter account. “His smile, infectious personality and toughness are what we’ll remember most. Our prayers for comfort go out to the many who loved him and the Utah football family.”

Utah figures respond

Several prominent figures in the state also shared their thoughts on Jordan’s influence. Steve Starks, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, said he “would love to see our community do something to show Utah’s love while helping comfort the Jordan family in Texas.”

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith called for prayers for the Ute family — “way too soon. Such a bright future,” he wrote — while Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell said he didn’t know Jordan but knew about his standout freshman season. “(He) was going to be an amazing talent,” Mitchell said. “Rest In Peace Ty Jordan man! This is crazy!!”

“I don’t have any info outside of what is being reported this morning, but our hearts are broken for Ty Jordan and his family,” Utah Gov-elect Spencer Cox said. “Over the past few weeks he completely won this Aggie over...our family watched so we didn’t miss a single carry. Prayers for his family and teammates.”

Fans honor Jordan

Fans, too, turned to social media to remember Jordan, and that included a Twitter thread started by user @utedaddy, who shared a photo of a University of Utah flag hanging outside a house with a message that read, “Ute flags out in honor and appreciation of Ty Jordan. Let’s get this thread going. May he Rest in Peace. #RIP22 #UteFamily.”

That started a wave of people sharing their own photos. Twitter user @utah_ute_gal displayed a photo of a flag hanging from a car window and said, “In my USPS delivery van. Everyone will se(e) it as I work today.”

User @sunlitgold1968 showed a photo of a lit U. at nighttime, alongside some Christmas lights, and said, “We will be lighting the U tonight in honor of Ty.” A Utah State fan also joined in. “This is all I’ve got but it’s better than nothing. From a USU fan, much love to the U today,” wrote Twitter user @Nutts__, while sharing a photo of a Utah polo shirt hanging in a window.