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FHSU preview '13 -- Jordan evolves into team leader on 'D'

By NICK McQUEEN

nmcqueen@dailynews.net

A day after the Tigers' final preseason scrimmage last week, members of the Fort Hays State University football team met in the media room of the newly opened Schmidt/Bickle Indoor Training Facility outside Lewis Field Stadium.

Each had a sheet of paper listing players from the Tiger offense and Tiger defense. They were informed to circle two on each side, designating their vote for team captains.

The four chosen --  senior receiver Tanner Hageman and senior running back Andre Smith on offense, and junior lineman Jesse Trent and junior safety Michael Jordan on defense -- was not a shock at all to third-year Tiger coach Chris Brown.

"Not one bit," Brown said. "They are very good football palyers and great leaders.

"I kind of figured they would be the four picked."

In terms of what he did last year and his overall experience with the club, Jordan might have been the easiest selection. The Kerens, Texas product who dons the number 23, is just ready to prove his worth.

"I know I have a lot on my hands," said Jordan, who will enter his second year as the Tigers' starting safety. "And people expect a lot from me."

Jordan's game got stronger each outing a season ago and culminated in a 13-tackle performance in a 14-12 loss to the University of Central Missouri in Week 10 of the season at Lewis Field Stadium. He led the squad in tackles in two of the final four games, leading Brown at the time to say he was finally playing the position the way it was supposed to be played. He finished second on the team with 87 tackles, behind Layton Hickel, now a Tiger graduate assistant.

That momentum has carried over for Jordan, one of four returning starters for the Tiger defense, and the only returning all-MIAA player on the team from last year.

"I'm ready to get things started,"  Jordan said. "I'm more confident and rady to play."

As a freshman in 2011, Jordan played behind senior Korey Allison at safety. He saw time in all 11 games and recorded 13 tackles. He took on the starting role a year later and led all Tigers with 47 solo tackles. He had three games where he reached double-digits tackles.

"He's really grown up and is starting to understand our defense a little bit better than he has in the past," Brown said. "Last year was really his first year of seeing a lot of playing time.

"He just needs to be patient on play action, make sure he's seeing things develop and go make the play,"  the coach added. "He's done that so far."

In the pass-happy MIAA that emphasizes quarterback play, patience is key for Jordan, but the team captain is impatient about getting on -- and off -- the field.

"We're tired of banging on each other,"  Jordan said. "We're ready to see someone else."

Jordan is part of the Tigers' experienced defensive secondary, a unit that has been impressive in preseason and grew close during the summer.

"There were a lot of poeple here in the summer,"  Jordan said. "I think we'll be all right. We just want to get off the field basically. Want to go three and out every time."