Matthew Jordan (as told to Andrew Clausen)
"Our Stories" is a RamblinWreck.com feature that provides first-person stories from current Georgia Tech student-athletes on their journey through academics, competition and life once their athletic careers are over. These young men and women represent the ideals of what it means to be an Everyday Champion at Georgia Tech. These are their stories.
Working in supply chain engineering, I've always been taught to be efficient in everything that I do. Whether with logistics and shipping for my parents' business or strategically going down the field to make your way to the end zone, I've sort of always been around it.
But life hasn't always been a straight shot.
When I was looking at colleges, I wanted to go to a school that would be great for me academically and give me a chance to go to the NFL -- every kid's dream. Georgia Tech had three things: 1) academics -- a no-brainer; 2) football in the ACC, a Power 5 conference -- a no-brainer; and 3) it's actually close to home, being just a five-hour drive away from my parents.
When I first got here, I honestly didn't have a clue what I would major in. But once I took global operations with Bob Myers, with all these different markets, and a service operations class with Manpreet Hora, where we audited a local coffee shop, I knew supply chain engineering was what I wanted to do.
I also didn't think school would be that hard, to be honest. In high school, I was a 4.0 GPA kid and things like that, but when I got to college, I was like, `OK, I really have to apply myself like I do on the field in the classroom.' Same with football too, though. I came in early -- I was only 17. So that spring, people kept telling me there's such a big difference and I was like, "Yeah, yeah. Blah blah blah. Whatever." And then came that first workout session we had with Coach John Sisk and I knew they were right. Then we put the pads on and it was the first time I really got hit. Then it was like, "OK, now I really know they were right."
It was a big adjustment both in the classroom and on the football field, but I'm so thankful for the experiences they gave me, even with all the ups and the downs. Going to the Orange Bowl, going 3-9, going Ireland and then to the TaxSlayer bowl, going 5-6. It'll help me in life because God always has a plan. I believe everything happens for a reason.
When my foot injury first happened last spring, I Googled a lot about my injury and I saw that I was kind of iffy. I talked to Coach Paul Johnson and he said he had coached some guys that didn't really fully come back from it. But it wasn't going to stop me. I've had diabetes my whole live and I never let that stop me. So I wasn't going to let an injury stop me either.
When I re-injured it again this fall, the first thing I did was I prayed on it. Then I talked to my parents because I ask my Dad a lot for advice. At the end of the day, my decision to not come back next season just came down to the fact that leaving Tech is the best decision for me, especially with me graduating with my master's degree in supply chain engineering this coming May.
So, as my time as a student-athlete at Georgia Tech winds down, I have some people I'd like to thank. I think like any freshman coming in, I was kind of intimidated by Coach Johnson, with him being the head coach and the offensive coordinator too, I've now been around him for a long time. Every day in stretch lines, he would come by me and the other quarterbacks and crack a joke or two. He's like another father figure, really. You can always go in and ask him for advice. Advice for life, football, what I need to do to make myself better ... anything, really. He has always been there for me. I'm so thankful for Coach Johnson, it's unreal.
That goes for Coach Sisk too. People don't always understand that we're mainly around strength coaches when we're out of season, just because of NCAA rules and the fact that coaches are recruiting too. He's another father-type figure who I've spent a lot of time around. He's always had a good plan for me, whether that's with injury or without injury. He always wants what's best for his players. Like, if I go in the weight room now to work out, I'll also go in and chat with him 30 minutes to an hour to just talk about life.
And then my academic adviser, Chris Breen. He did an awesome job. From day one, he's always had a great plan for me, especially redshirting my first year. He knew with me coming in early that there was a chance I could work on my master's and I said, "Yes, that's what I want to do." We've had that plan since 2014 when I first redshirted. He's always helped me, whether I've needed tutoring or advice on what class to take or what route to go. He is a big part of the reason why I will earn a bachelor's and a master's degree in just four-and-a-half years.
I think it's always good to have a plan, but it's also always good to have a Plan B and a Plan C. A lot of guys say, "Oh, I'm going to the NFL." Alright, that's your only plan? I am going to be a Georgia Tech alum -- I can fall back on my education. I can go back and run the family business. I've always got a plan for "What if this doesn't happen? What should come next? What do I do then?" And that's from my Dad. He's always raised me to be the best man that I can be. That's why he suggested Tech.
A lot of people don't understand what we're going through, with Tech being so academically challenging and competing at the highest level of college football. If you can get through this, then that's just going to set you up for a lifetime.
And I'm excited to get that started. I've already wheeled across the stage once. But now I'll walk across the stage with a master's. We'll see what comes next.