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ASU's JOrdan Clark is more than just an NFL player's son

Taylyn Hadley Avatar
November 12, 2023

As a 5-foot-10 defensive back, ASU’s Jordan Clark is widely known best for being the son of NFL Super Bowl Champion Ryan Clark.

Although it’s undeniable that Jordan’s father has played a significant role in shaping the person he is today, Jordan has forged his own path to success. Every decision leading him to his current position has been made independently.

But it does not hurt when you have a former Pro-Bowler behind you to help make those decisions. 

“My dad, my entire life has kind of allowed me to make my own decisions which has been really cool,” Jordan said. “He knows I’m the one that’s gonna have to live with them at the end of the day.”

Originating from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and graduating from University Lab High School, Jordan had numerous options when deciding where to pursue his college career. He received 15 official offers including ones from Mississippi State, Indiana, Louisville and Cal. 

He ultimately chose to suit up in maroon and gold at the onset of his senior year of high school. 

Given the connection with former and current ASU coaches who were once teammates of Ryan coupled with the fact that he would train in Phoenix during the NFL offseason, Jordan’s decision to become a Sun Devil was an easy one.

Jordan remains appreciative to this day for the 21-hour journey westward to face the heat of Arizona.

“So, really just kind of making decisions based off what I feel is right and what I feel is for me,” Jordan said. “It’s led me here and I love it here, so it’s awesome.”

This journey has also charted his unique path to success, allowing Jordan to carve out his own accomplishments and achievements.

“Leave places better than you found them”

As he forges his own path towards a successful career, Jordan has also established a home for himself in Tempe, a place for which he expresses gratitude every morning when he wakes up.

“I just love waking up here, you know, every day,” Jordan said. “No matter what’s been going on in the building or, you know what commotion is surrounding the program, I’ve always woken up and been excited to be in Tempe.” 

Jordan is content with enduring the summer months, especially when they transition into days with temperatures reaching 89 degrees in October and pleasant 76-degree days in November.

This stands in stark contrast to his life in Louisiana, where he would experience turf sessions with lows dipping into the 40s.

Jordan speaks of his residence in Tempe as though he’s living in a dream. Over the past four years, he has developed a deep affection for every aspect of the town he proudly calls home.

“The weather’s amazing, Taco Boys is right there, Chuckbox is right there,” Jordan said with a smile. “I met my best friends here. This is where I want to be.”

While some may question why the gifted defenseman has stayed committed to the Sun Devil program who has gone 24-28 since Jordan’s arrival in 2019, there is much more to staying in Tempe than just the program’s success for Jordan. 

Amid ASU’s worst-performing season in the last four years with only three wins to its name, Jordan is standing tall and weathering the challenges alongside his teammates.

Jordan currently holds a top 50 Pac-12 ranking in solo tackles and occupies the No. 2 position in broken up passes. Despite the challenging circumstances ASU is facing, he approaches it with resilience, taking it in stride. There’s no team he’d rather navigate through these difficulties with than the one he’s a part of.

“Oh my gosh, it’s really like, these are people that are gonna be in my wedding one day,” Jordan said. “I really love these guys and it’s so easy to go to war for them every week.” 

For the redshirt senior, it’s clear that it’s about more than just football.

On top of riding the wave alongside his best friends, Jordan has become close with head coach Kenny Dillingham who has given him yet another reason to represent the ASU program to the best of his ability.

Possibly having one more year after the 2023 season, Jordan dons the maroon and gold with the utmost respect.

“Just trying to always go out there, play my hardest, leave everything on the field and kind of just embody what it means to be a Sun Devil,” Jordan said. “I really do try to do that and represent the alumni and all the people that have come through here.”

The Sun Devil program holds immense significance for Jordan and he strives to follow his dad’s advice diligently day in and day out.

“Leave places better than you found them and be the best you that you can be,” Jordan said.

The Clark genes encompass more than just football

Leaving places better than you found them is certainly something that Ryan has done over his career. 

During Ryan’s 13-year NFL career, he began with the Giants for two years, then moved to Washington for another two, followed by an eight-year stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He concluded his career with one final year back in Washington before signing on a one-day contract with Pittsburgh to retire a Steeler.

The 27-year-old started his Steeler run in 2006 where the team finished with an 8-8 record. In the next five years alongside Ryan, the Steelers achieved a winning record with a five-year tally of 55-25, finishing above .500.

Ryan’s impressive five-year span with the Steelers included a 2008 Super Bowl win over the Arizona Cardinals where he had five tackles in the victory. 

Although Jordan was merely seven years old at the time, watching his dad secure a Super Bowl victory was a day that he will never forget and one that he wants to get back to accomplish himself.

“It was probably the best day of my life to be honest with you,” Jordan said. “At the time, I didn’t really realize what that meant and how big of a deal that was. But now having that experience is really priceless. You know, not a lot of kids get that.”

Jordan’s knack for football is not something that was imposed on him, a fact that he makes sure to emphasize.

While of course Ryan would love to see his son follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in something that brought him so much happiness, whatever his children wanted to do was solely up to them. 

“We didn’t know if I was gonna play football or not,” Jordan said. “That’s not something that my dad pressured me to do, it’s kind of something I just fell in love with.” 

Being the only boy sandwiched between two sisters, Jordan inherited all the Clark family’s football genes along with their kindness and outspokenness.

This gene is clearly evident in the way Jordan carries himself and the maturity in which he speaks. His self-made motto is derived from the wisdom of a man twice his age.

“Just be kind to the people around you (and) love on the people around you,” Jordan said. “Stop to smell the flowers. Just ultimately make decisions that make you happy.”

Football is just a game after all. 

Looking ahead, Jordan aims to be remembered as more than just a stellar athlete, actively taking steps to ensure a multifaceted legacy.

“Whether that be you know, going to class, being around people (and) trying to make people’s day you know, just being polite,” Jordan said. “We’re out here playing football, you know, just do the best you can and treat people the right way.”

“Whoever got the highest pick”

With a strong sense of purpose and the innate talent of a Clark, Jordan is determined not to merely follow in his father’s footsteps as he embarks on his pursuit of an NFL career. He is actively breaking down his own barriers and ensuring that every achievement is the result of hard work and dedication.

When asked about his dream scenario for his future in the NFL, it was anticipated that he might express the desire to don the black and gold, taking the field at Acrisure Stadium just like his dad.

But that is the point of Jordan’s story – he is different. 

Jordan doesn’t just aspire to have a career in the NFL, he aims to have the best career in the league. Starting with his draft pick, that is where he wants to start a future. 

“Whoever got the highest pick,” Jordan said with a laugh. “Whoever got the highest pick for sure.”

Although Jordan’s path is different from his father’s, perhaps some aspects of their careers may overlap with one another. 

In the future, Jordan might discover an interest in a career as an analyst, potentially following in his father’s footsteps. This consideration is grounded in Jordan’s outgoing nature and confidence.

Ryan hosts a podcast called The Pivot with fellow NFL vets Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder and an MMA podcast alongside former UFC champion Daniel Cormier called DC & RC. In addition, he is signed with ESPN as an analyst for NFL Live, SportsCenter, Get Up! and First Take. 

Despite Jordan’s remarkable eloquence and unique self-assuredness, the role of an analyst is something that the idea of made his face scrunch up in distaste.

But, never say never. 

“I don’t know. We’ll see,” Jordan said. “I like talking about sports, but I don’t know if I want to be on TV and have to deal with all the people on social media.”

Fair enough. 

Currently, Jordan’s primary focus is on the immediate challenges ahead, aiming to conquer each opponent in ASU’s path throughout the remainder of the season. He wants to keep the season alive in any format that he can.

“Ultimately, it’s about what you do now, it’s not about what happened,” Jordan said. “Just trying to put my best foot forward every day. Uplift my teammates, you know, keep them up.” 

Regardless of what ASU’s uncertain future may hold in the coming weeks, the talented young star will maintain good spirits, finding himself in a positive place given the success he has achieved.

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