Jordan Ta'amu's Uncanny Composure
Nov. 4, 2017
By Brian Scott Rippee, OleMissSports.com
The sense of calmness he exudes astonishes men nearly twice his age. There isn’t much that rattles Jordan Ta’amu. His offensive coordinator has noticed.
“Jordan’s calmness from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed impresses me,” Phil Longo said. “He’s like that the whole time. His poise is a definite asset when he is out there on the field running this offense.”
Three weeks ago, Shea Patterson hobbled out of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium with a torn PCL. It was the latest does of adversity bundled into a 40-24 loss to LSU given to a program flooded with it already. An already trying season now seemed to be in a full on nose dive. Anything going forward really seemed to matter even less.
Ta’amu quietly slipped in two scoring drives that seemed lost in the defeat to the Tigers. He showed the ability to throw the football down the field and move the offense. A week later he accounted for 400 yards of offense and two touchdowns against Arkansas, a more than sufficient effort needed to win an SEC football game. Ole Miss lost in gut-wrenching fashion. That didn’t faze him.
On Saturday, he trotted onto the field with 2:14 remaining in a game against Kentucky. Ole Miss trailed 34-30 and Ta’amu was tasked with moving the football 71 yards into the end zone in order for the Rebels to avoid another helping of heartache. He huddled the offense on the sideline and spoke in a similar tone to his body language: calm and assertive.
“I said ‘hey, let’s go put this in the end zone and win this game snd go home,’” Ta’amu said.”That is exactly what we did.”
Ta’amu marched the offense down the field as seconds melted off the clock. He extended a play with his feet to pick up a first. down deep in Kentucky territory with 15 seconds left. The football squirted out of his arms when he slammed into the turf. It was initially ruled a fumble. That didn’t faze him, either.
“I knew my body was on the ground before it came out so I wasn’t really worried about that,” Ta’amu said. “I was worried about the next play and what we were going to do as an offense.”
He turned to the sideline to get the next play call during the review. Two plays later he threw a well-placed ball to D.K. Metcalf in the back left corner of the end zone for his first SEC win. In his mind, there was a never a doubt about the end result.
“It didn’t look like his second ever start to me,” Matt Luke said. “He was calm and cool. I am really proud of him. He’s a guy that waited his turn and didn’t get many reps, but when he got his opportunity he stepped up.”
He’d never been on that stage before, in a stadium that big, against a defense like that in a Southeastern Conference game. None of that bothered him. He banked on experience from similar situations on much smaller stages
“I had been in that situation in high school and junior college,” Ta’amu said. “I just had to stay focused and do my job. I knew my receivers, o-line and running backs had my back.’
He completed 31 of 40 passes, threw for 382 yards and tossed four touchdowns all with a whopping five quarters of game experience under his belt. The offense has not missed a beat with its new signal caller. He’s a calming influence for a young team that was looking for anything to go its way.
“We’ve been collected in every situation,” Metcalf said. “Ta’amu controls the offense and moves us down the field. We practice with him every day. You are now seeing what he does in practice.”
He’s ignited a team in need a team in need of a spark with a calmness and demeanor of an experienced veteran. Nothing sends Ta’amu to a place that’s too high or too low.
Ta’amu has never tried to be Shea Patterson, the most highly touted quarterback recruit to choose Ole Miss in recent memory. He’s never aimed to be anyone else but himself, an ultra confident kid from Hawaii with a rocket of an arm and a pair of legs that add a second dimension to his game.
“I just try to be me and trust God,” Ta’amu said. “He takes care of me. I just have to go out there and perform.”
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