SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The NFL beckons for Oregon Ducks defensive end Dion Jordan. He's projected as high as a first-round pick in the NFL Draft in 2013. But Jordan has one more game in college to play, the 2013 Fiesta Bowl. As fortune would have it, Jordan gets to play that finale right near where he grew up in the Phoenix area.
"It's a wonderful time of year," Jordan said. "Who else would I want to spend it with than my teammates and my family?"
Jordan also hopes to spend a lot of time in the Wildcats' backfield. The former Chandler High School star came to Oregon originally as a tight end and played in the Rose Bowl as a redshirt freshman. He moved to defense in 2010 and was a key reserve on the team that played in the BCS national championship game. In 2011, Jordan was a first team all-Pac-12 selection after leading the Ducks in tackles for loss.
And despite missing a game this season. Jordan was just as good a performer and forced three fumbles, a season high. He was named first team-all conference and a first team All-American.
But beyond all that, Jordan has one of the best nicknames in sports, "The Praying Mantis." Some call him "Giant." He's taken a leadership role on the team as a senior.
The insect nickname came from how long and lean he is (6-7, 243 pounds) and the way he plays.
Jordan has seen and gone against some elite quarterbacks in bowl games over his time at Oregon. At the 2010 Rose Bowl it was Terrelle Pryor of Ohio State. Then came Cam Newton of Auburn in the national title game. Then Russell Wilson of Wisconsin, now flourishing in the NFL, in the 2012 Rose Bowl. And this week, Collin Klein of Kansas State.
Here's more from Jordan on coming home:
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Of course, it's no secret that the Oregon offense, with its tempo and proclivity for points, gets most of the attention when talking about the Ducks. But at least internally, Oregon's defense gets as much respect. The Ducks, to a man, are as fast on defense as they are on offense and want to play that way to force Kansas State into mistakes.
"You can't win as many games as we've won over the last four years without playing great defense," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "Dion and Kiko Alonso and Michael Clay and that group of guys there have really been the cornerstone of what we've been... I know he's (Jordan) going to be ready to play in this game."