It’s a little unusual for a successful football player to only start playing the sport once they reach high school. Athletes who go far in any sport, generally start playing pretty young. But, not always. Success can come to athletes in a variety of ways and the path does not always look the same for everyone.
Take Jordan McCray for example. Jordan didn’t begin playing football until he was in 9th grade. Usually this is way too late for most players hoping to make it to an elite level. Not for Jordan. Jordan is one of those rare cases where he may have started a sport late, but he went on to make waves and his career history reflects that.
The Early Days
Jordan began playing football at Miami Southridge Senior High School. After high school, Jordan followed in his older brother’s footsteps (Cliff McCray) and chose to join the UCF football program. He and his twin brother, Justin McCray, both played offensive line for the Knights.
The UCF football program was undergoing a lot of changes and transitioning from an Adidas to a Nike school when Jordan became part of the team. As a freshman, he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team and continued to become a more integral member of the team throughout his senior year. Jordan was recognized with several different honors, including selection to All-American Athletic Conference First Team, Phil Steele’s Postseason All-American Athletic Conference First Team. He also earned a spot on Sporting News’ All-American Athletic Conference Team.
To cap off his college career in the best way imaginable, Jordan was part of the Knights’ team that upset the Baylor Bears in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. Winning 52–42 for the first BCS bowl victory in program history and while being considered one of biggest upsets in BCS history at the time.
Career After Graduation
After graduation, Jordan was signed by the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2014. During his time in the NFL, Jordan played for a few different teams over the years. From the Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, to the Chicago Bears.
In early 2022, Jordan was still passionately pursuing a path toward playing football and was looking for an opportunity to continue competing. And that’s when his phone rang.
2022 was the inaugural season of the United States Football League (USFL). Jordan had expressed interest in becoming part of the new league. He wanted a way to stand out and make a name for himself as the season’s draft approached in February.
He began building connections with coaches at the Birmingham Stallions. They wanted to learn more about Jordan and see if he had what they were looking for. The easiest way for Jordan to impress the coaches was to send them highlights, stats and details on his career history. To showcase his talents and skills in the best way possible, Jordan sent the Stallions’ coaching staff his GMTM profile.
The coaches thanked him for the information and said they would get back to him in about 48 hours once they had a chance to review his profile. Within 30 minutes, the team called him back to tell him that he was going to be their number one pick.
Jordan was drafted as the fifth center and the first selection at the position by the Birmingham Stallions.
At the beginning of 2022, Jordan was not actively on a team or competing in the sport he loves so much. Within just 7 short months, Jordan went from not having a team to winning the USFL Championship alongside his Birmingham Stallions’ teammates.
The Athlete Journey Continues
Jordan’s story doesn’t end there though. Fresh off of his USFL season, Jordan went back home and decided to spend some quality time with his girlfriend and friends. They were enjoying time at the beach together, when someone from a neighboring cabana approached them. Jordan ended up chatting with the person about playing football. The person turned out to be Aveion Cason, a retired NFL veteran, who worked as a scout for a few years after his playing career ended. Jordan and Aveion had a mutual friend in common, Ray McNeil (former teammate of Jordan’s and coach at Trench Academy).
Ray vouched for Jordan and his talents, and asked if Aveion could reach out to some of his connections to help get Jordan get into an NFL camp this season. Aveion agreed and asked Jordan to send him some film from this past season. Looking for advice on what would be best to send to Aveion, Jordan reached out to his good friend Saeed Lee (DB coach at Grambling State University). Now that all of Jordan’s career history is available on his GMTM profile, he was able to share his profile and everything they were looking for with a single link. Jordan shared his profile with Aveion and Saeed.
Saeed ended up passing Jordan’s profile along to Hue Jackson (Head Coach at Grambling State). Hue agreed to pass along Jordan’s profile to his connections in hopes of also helping make introductions. About a week passed, and Saeed messaged Jordan an amazing update. Hue uncovered an XFL coach who loved Jordan’s profile and wanted to connect with him.
“While it isn’t an NFL opportunity, it is still a great opportunity nonetheless! All made possible from having easily accessible film, and a platform that highlights it.” - Jordan McCray
No two athlete journeys look the same and you can see that Jordan’s path is continuing to evolve, week after week. Our team at GMTM recognizes that, and it’s why we’re so passionate about connecting athletes like Jordan to opportunities at every level.
Great moments are born from great opportunities. Start telling your story today and see what opportunities you might uncover.