In Milton, Ga., a community just outside of Atlanta, a high school and its football program seem to be on the precipice of something special.
At the forefront of it all, there’s a dual-threat quarterback who, unlike many of his peers with the same label, is legitimately a dual-threat. In fact, if he didn’t run it the way that he does—which is to say, if he didn’t run it like a running back—he’d still be a perfectly capable quarterback.
His name’s Jordan—last name Yates. We’ll circle back to that last name in a sec.
Yates is a three-star prospect according to both 247Sports and Rivals. We won’t name names, of course, but he’s ranked behind several guys who, frankly, he’s clearly a better player than.
Part of that is likely because he’s 5-foot-11 and talent evaluators are allergic to sub-six-foot quarterbacks. Part of that may also have to do with the fact that the program he has chosen to be a part of at the next level, Georgia Tech, doesn’t exactly have a track record of producing elite quarterbacks.
In fact, his commitment to the Yellow Jackets simply reinforced the notion, to those who don’t care to do the film study for themselves, that Yates is, in fact, an athlete playing quarterback—rather than a field general with outstanding athleticism.
So why’d a quarterback with 18 offers—including one from Lane Kiffin at FAU—choose a school best known for running the absolute hell out of the football?
“I think I’m a great fit. They use their quarterbacks in a lot of different ways, throwing the ball and running the ball, which is what I like to do,” said Yates. “I really just felt at home there. I’ve got a great relationship with the coaches, especially Coach (Craig) Candeto who is the quarterback coach. So overall it just felt like the perfect fit for me.”
And, as it turns out, the Ramblin’ Wreck isn’t opposed to putting a few footballs into orbit.
“Really, people don’t really give Georgia Tech as much credit as they deserve in the passing game,” Yates said. “They still have a lot of concepts that spread teams do. And they look to throw it 18-20 times a game. Ideally they’d like for their quarterback to throw for 2,000 and run for 1,000.”
The last Yellow Jackets’ quarterback to clear 2,000 passing yards was Reggie Ball, who did it in 2004 and 2005—but Reggie didn’t run it as much. In fact, he never topped his freshman season total of 384 rushing yards.
The great Joe Hamilton is the standard that Yates will be aiming for.
Hamilton eclipsed 2,000 passing yards in each of his final three seasons in Atlanta, including 3,060 yards at a 67 percent clip as a senior. He also rushed for 734 yards that season, en route to winning the Davey O’Brien Award, earning a consensus All-America selection, and being named the ACC’s Player of the Year.
No quarterback in the school’s history has passed for more than 2,000 yards while also eclipsing 1,000 yards rushing. Should Yates become the first, he will find himself shoulder-to-shoulder with Hamilton as one of the greatest quarterbacks to wear Tech gold.
“It’s a great school academically and I take academics seriously and so does my family. So that was a big factor,” said Yates. “Also, how close it is to home. I can get there from where I live now in about 30 minutes with no traffic. I’ve got a huge family that all likes to come to my games, so they’ll be able to do that for the next four years, as well.”
Oh, yeah. The last name. One such member of that huge family is Jordan’s uncle TJ Yates—who, you might remember, starred at North Carolina before going on to become a folk hero to Houston Texans fans.
"We’re pretty close,” Jordan said. “I grew up watching him play. I watched him his whole high school, college and NFL career. We work out together a lot.
“A lot of people think our throwing motion looks the exact same and how we finish our throws looks the exact same, but I don’t really see it.”
You can be the judge:
And, with all due respect, TJ wasn't doing this:
“We have a really good relationship. We’re close,” Jordan said. “We talk about every day. He helps me a lot. Just being a quarterback—like not necessarily just throwing the ball, but preparing for games, watching film, all of that type of stuff. It’s really cool. I’ve looked up to him my whole life.”
The pair will also share a conference when Jordan joins Georgia Tech and becomes a part of the ACC. First things first, however, as Jordan first must lead a highly-touted Milton (GA) squad into the 2018 season.
The Eagles won’t exactly ease into things, either. The regular season kicks off tomorrow night at Turner Field in Atlanta against No. 19 Archer (GA), followed by a rivalry tilt against Alpharetta (GA) before a massive Freedom Bowl matchup with No. 8 Cardinal Gibbons (FL).
Milton will host all of the Freedom Bowl festivities, which includes a media day and six games over the course of two days. The Milton-Cardinal Gibbons matchup will be the marquee piece of a Friday filled with highlights.
“(The Freedom Bowl) is really special,” Yates said. “I think in the next couple of the years, nationally, you’ll start to hear about the Freedom Bowl as one of the top events in the country. It’s got a lot of great teams in it this year. It’s really cool to be a part of that and to host it.”
As for Milton’s opponent in that game, Yates has some familiarity.
“Like most Florida teams, they’re fast. They’re quick,” he said. "I know (quarterback) Nik Scalzo pretty well. Been with him at a couple of camps. He’s a really good player. I know they’re going to be a tough challenge for us.”
Tough challenges won’t be hard for this team to find during the first few weeks. Should Yates and the Eagles earn three wins before the calendar turns to September, they will, without question, vault themselves into the national conversation.