Scott and Gayla Congdon
Parents of 2005 Kicker Recruit
Jordan Congdon is one of the members of the 2005 recruiting class and is the 2005 Parade All-American kicker. He is the son of Scott and Gayla Congdon from San Diego, CA. This interview with Scott and Gayla was done on March 7, 2005 by David Max.
Picture taken at the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame banquet on March 18, 2005 where Jordan received the Outstanding Player, Offense.
DM: Are you originally from San Diego?
Scott: Well, I am. My Dad was a Naval officer and so we bounced around every three years but I was here for part of my elementary school, finished high school, my parents settled and retired here and we consider San Diego definitely home.
DM: How about you, Gayla?
Gayla: I grew up right on the Texas, New Mexico border. My dad worked in Seminole, Texas and we lived close to Odessa, Texas and we also lived in New Mexico. My dad actually still lives back there in an area they call the Permian Basin.
DM: What do you do for a living?
Scott: We both run a non-profit organization called Amor Ministries, that we actually started in college and we bring about 24,000 high school and college and adults into Mexico for a week at a time and are building about 1,200 homes for the poor in Mexico a year.
DM: When did you start doing this?
Scott: In 1980
Gayla: It's our 25th anniversary this year. We're bringing about 10,000 kids to build houses over Spring Break. Scott and I started as college kids - I lived in Mexico in an orphanage after I got out of college and he came down with a group from his university and we just felt compelled to do that. Jordan has led several groups and we think one of his dreams would be that he could either bring the team or at least some members of the team down to Mexico to build the houses. About 15 students can build a house in four days.
DM: That's the purpose of the trip for the week, kind of like Habitat for Humanity in Mexico?
Scott: We're more closely associated with the Church. Habitat really does affordable housing. It's local housing but it's affordable. We do housing for people who would never be able to buy a house. They have to purchase the land, but we really work with the poorest of the poor. We're taking people out of cardboard shacks and tarps and makeshift housing. It's still really incredible to think after 25 years, 4-1/2 million people in Mexico are without adequate shelter. To have 10,000 participants over spring break is pretty amazing to us.
DM: How big is the organization? How many people?
Scott: We have 44 people on staff, including Gayla and I.
DM: Let's talk about Jordan for a little bit. When did Jordan become a kicker?
Gayla: When he was ten years old he talked all of our family and friends into getting him footballs for Christmas. Jordan was a soccer player and he had a really strong leg and honestly, he looked at our family and realized there's nobody here over six feet so he told us that he wanted to kick. Well, I just happened to meet John Carney at a Christian youth convention and I talked to him about Jordan kicking and he asked how old was Jordan. I said he's ten and John said he shouldn't kick right now. His body is not developed for that repetitiveness but when he's in 8th Grade, that's a great time, so keep him in soccer. So I told Jordan he had to wait until he was in 8th Grade. The summer before 8th Grade, Jordan went on the Internet and found a kicking school at the University of Nevada, Reno, the Pelfrey Kicking School. So he and I flew to the University of Nevada, Reno that summer for two days to work with the Pelfreys in a private lesson and they said, "Can he kick?" And I said, "Well I don't know. I know he wants to." The University of Nevada, Reno coach, it was in August and their team was already out practicing and the coach came over to me and said, "Is that your kid? Get him off the field." And I said, "Okay I'll get him off the field. I'm sorry. I thought it was okay that we're here." He starts laughing and said, "I'm just giving you a hard time. Our football team is making fun of our kicker because they said that little 8th Grader is kicking further field goals than you do." He was the freshman kicker at Saint Augustine High School and that year he kicked a 40-yard field goal and the next year they put him up on varsity. He just kind of figured out that he was accurate with his kicking and wanted to do it and he loved it. We never had to say, you have to go kicking, like you have to practice the piano. He was always begging his Dad to take him to the field so he could kick. He's always been that way. The summer after his 9th grade year they told him he had to compete against this other kid to win the job and he just worked harder and that's really always been our take on him. He will at least work as hard as the other guy, but mostly he'll outwork them.
DM: What is his longest field goal?
Gayla: 53 in a game.
DM: Let's talk about recruiting. How many schools were involved in recruiting Jordan?
Gayla: All the Ivy League schools and the service academies. He made All-American as a sophomore so he started getting letters and he probably heard from 100 schools. He got offered San Diego State. Our high school coach told us that he got calls after Christmas inquiring about how strong Jordan's commitment was. The Sunday after Christmas we were called and asked if we would meet with the coach's from a highly ranked team here on the West coast and received e-mails all the time after he committed to Nebraska. Schools that recruited hard. There were probably ten that would have probably made an offer if he hadn't committed to Nebraska.
DM: Did Jordan consider Nebraska before they contacted him?
Gayla: Not really.
DM: So Nebraska wasn't on the radar.
Gayla: He wanted to go to a Pac-10 school. He wanted to either go to the Pac-10 or he wanted to go to Texas. I would say Texas was his dream school and I can tell you, I have one family member that told me that he would not yell for him if he went to Nebraska and then I told him that's not acceptable and he said, "Okay I'll yell for him except for when he plays Texas." and I said, "You either yell for him all the time or you don't yell for him at all, but I can tell you this, if you don't yell for him all the time, you will never get a ticket to see him play."
DM: Who was the primary recruiter for Jordan?
Gayla: The best recruiter in the world - Bill Busch.
DM: What makes him the best?
Scott: I think it was when he told us that the weather was the same there as it is here in San Diego (laughs). He is just the friendliest, warmest, has the best sense of humor, and right from the day he came to our house and came to Jordan's school, he just made us feel like we were a part of the Nebraska family. He sent us a great email Thanksgiving week that said the Congdon family will be spending their next four Thanksgivings with the Husker family! We though that was great.
Gayla: You know as a Mom, for me to think that I had this opportunity to send my son an hour plane ride away to a northern California school or a three-hour drive away to a Southern California school or to the middle of the country in Nebraska. You want your son to go from your family to another family that you feel cares about him as much as you do and Bill Busch made us feel that way. It wasn't just him, it was all of the people back there - Scott Downing is going to be his position coach, Coach Callahan, Judy Weaver, the whole Husker family that's talked about a lot, but having Bill Busch as his recruiter and having him in our home and the calls he made, made Scott and I feel that we could put our son, Jordan, the most precious part of our family, to us, and we're giving him to people we trust would treat him the same way. Bill Busch is the reason that we believe that. We truly feel like he's a member of our family. I can tell you that we didn't feel that way with anybody else.
DM: That's good for Nebraska. When did they make first contact with Jordan?
Gayla: It was last March. We got a call from our high school coach saying that they had heard from Nebraska and that we needed to get our highlight video done and so it was kind of an off and on thing and we'd get e-mails, Jordan would hear from Coach Downing. Jordan and Coach Downing e-mailed each other through the summer and then it was over Labor Day Coach Busch got in touch with our coach. Coach Busch told us that he was coming out to see him and then he came to the school. I don't think he could talk to Jordan. Another thing we want to tell you, they operated with the most integrity of any school we dealt with, too. They never crossed the line and broke or bent NCAA rules, ever. And we can't say that about everybody either. We were just blown away by the integrity by which he operated. Coach Busch told us that he had talked to Coach Callahan and I've encouraged him to offer so we're going to offer and we want you to come out for your official visit. I knew before we went out he was going there. You can call it a mom's intuition. And being from Texas and a Longhorn fan all of my life!
DM: So you knew before his visit?
Gayla: Scott and I are in the ministry and we feel like we can read people pretty well. We go to an inner-city church, and we've lived in an urban community, we've worked cross-culturally and I think that there was something with Coach Busch that I knew we could trust and when we went on our visit all it did was confirm everything we thought.
Scott: Before we went there I said, "Hey let's give ourselves a week when we get back to think about this because I know it was going to be this incredible huge experience because we'd heard about it and your inclination is going to be, right off the bat, that this is the greatest place in the world, you will want to go here." I had to remind him on the plane back that that's what we were going to do and he said, "I think that's where I want to go." I reminded him that we told the coaches that we wanted a week and the next day Jordan was telling everyone in school that's where he was going. Then the next afternoon Gayla's going, "Yeah that's where Jordan wants to go" and I reminded them that we said we'd take week. They twisted my arm and we were calling Coach Busch that night.
Gayla: You know we have a list on our refrigerator of the criteria that we had for a school not thinking there would be a school that could meet every bit of it and yet Nebraska did. Every single point. We couldn't believe it.
DM: Including the weather?
Scott: That's one of the things we talked about. Jordan has aspirations of being in the NFL and that's one of the things we have talked about with his kicking coaches that Jordan needs to be able to be able to play in every condition so that will sharpen his edge and make him a better kicker and that was a factor. That was a plus, that he'll be able to kick in all kinds of conditions.
Gayla: We did a lot of homework on Coach Callahan as well. Jim Harbaugh, who was a great NFL quarterback in Indianapolis. He went to Michigan and then went to Indianapolis and he played for the Chargers. He has a home here. He was on Callahan's coaching staff with the Raiders. Before we went on the official visit I called Coach Harbaugh because his son goes to school with our son. He was very encouraging about Coach Callahan and yet I'll tell you what was the most telling was not what Coach Harbaugh said, but what his 14 year old son said. I have a friend who drives the carpool for Coach Harbaugh's son and she asked him about Coach Callahan. How many 14-year-olds can even tell you who their Dad's boss is? And Jay Harbaugh said, "You know what, Coach Callahan treated my father really well." That was a great endorsement! We can honestly say that we left our recruiting trip believing without a shadow of a doubt that the coaching staff believes that you can recruit talented players with character and that you don't have to give up one for the other. You have a coach that says all I need is talent, the character thing will work itself out when they get here or these kids are great, they've got so much character, they may not be the greatest players, but they've got character and I've seen that in programs. What we saw in Callahan is he believes I'm going to go out and find the most talented players in the country that has the highest level of character.
DM: What was your meeting like on the recruiting trip with Steve Pederson? He commented at the Californians for Nebraska banquet about how he tries to meet with each athlete the comes on a recruiting trip.
Scott: We met with him and he gave us an overview of the program and was very supportive and we were very impressed with his professionalism and he really made us feel at home. Jordan asked him a question and it kind of surprised us because there are things he thinks about, you think, gosh, where did that come from? But he looked at him and he said, you had some problems in the past whose kids whose character has not reflected well on the University and what are you doing to clean that up? And I think for us most important thing was I wanted to see how he respected and treated our son and we were impressed, number one, that he took the time to meet with us, but we liked the vision and I liked what he said at the Californians for Nebraska dinner, is that his perception, and we've heard that over and over again, is that it wasn't anything that was bad that was going on in the program, but it was developing a sense of mediocrity. I liked what he said, as we believe that we can go out and get the most talented kids in the nation and we believe that we have a lot to offer. You've got one of the most storied traditions in football history. You've got unbelievable facilities that are being built. It wasn't really hard to be sold on it. Jordan said to me a couple of days before we went on the trip, because many people asked us, why is he going there, why is he not staying in the Pac 10, why isn't he going to Notre Dame, because we're at a Catholic school. And Jordan said, "Mom and Dad, I believe I have the heart of a Midwesterner." He identified with the people there and their values. I think as a parent you want to believe that they care about your son beyond the field and they have done nothing but make us feel that way, not only in the recruiting period where they made the six visits but the calls that they made, the letters they wrote, the contact that they've had with him since he signed has been unbelievable.
DM: So how many times a week would they be in touch with him with e-mails, letters and phone calls?
Gayla: Maybe four or five and do you know how great it is as a parent to have them say, we believe that we can go out and get the most talented kids in the nation and we believe your kid is one of them.
DM: That's a strong endorsement.
Scott: Another thing too is when Callahan asked Jordan what his aspirations are and Jordan said, "Well, my dream is to kick in the NFL someday." and he says, "We want everyone of our kids who come here to want to do that." Obviously, not everybody can, we know that's going to be a tough, tough deal for anybody but yet it's that the kind of people that he is recruiting. They want the people who have dreams of being the best and have that work ethic and that's the kind of team that Jordan wants to play with.
DM: What's your impression of the rest of the recruiting class this year? Have you met any of the other parents?
Scott: When Jordan played in the U.S. Army All American there were six other players there and they were just the greatest. He just loved spending time with them and it was funny when they were at practice every day Jordan would have times when he would be kicking and they would stop activities and the Nebraska recruits would all come right around Jordan and they would cheer him on and congratulate him when he made a great kick and nobody else was doing that for the other kickers. Jordan had his fan group and it was so obvious, it was wonderful and it was amazing. These guys had only spent a week together and they were like best buddies already. We loved seeing that. We were on the sideline watching that. That's the kind of camaraderie that's going to help propel this team to incredible heights.
DM: You were at the game. What would you estimate as to how many Nebraska fans actually attended the games.
Gayla: You mean how many did it feel like! We laughed that we don't even know how they got seats in the parent's section but they brought in a boom box and played the Nebraska fight song.
Scott: I think we estimated between 500-1,000 easy. I heard people say in our section where we were sitting where they had brought out a ton of seats in the section that there was probably 500 so when you started looking out over the place, I wouldn't be surprised if there had been a 1,000.
DM: So there were a lot of red shirts around.
Scott: Oh, they were everywhere.
Gayla: And they we cheering. If Jordan made a kick, they cheered him and they were great. I talked to some of the parents that were there, Craig Roark's. I got to talk to Rodney Picou's coach. Jordan loves Rodney Picou. We were blown away by every kid. The Dillard kid, amazing young man. Marlon Lucky, amazing young man, respectful. Leon Jackson is a special young man. I'll tell you, there were kids there that weren't that way. Bad language around adults. They didn't clean it up. I heard that the rest of the kids were calling Nebraska recruits something like a cult, because they just started hanging together. I called and said, Jordan, how did they treat you. Did they treat you like you were just a kicker? He said, "You know what, Mom, the greatest thing is they treat me like I'm their kicker and when I make a kick, they'll yet out, that's our kicker."
DM: The former NFL kicker, Evan Arapastothis, has tutored Jordan. How did they meet?
Gayla: A lot of the NFL kickers live here during the off season and Evan was living here because he coaches John Carney and he coaches other NFL guys. Jordan was working out with the kicker that had been at his high school and they knew Evan and they were working out one day and Jordan met Evan and Jordan came over to me and said "Mom, I want you to find him. I want to work with that man." So I called Evan and he does an interview to decide whether he wants to help you or not. I was really nervous that we wouldn't pass the interview. Jordan was bound and determined to work with him. He said, "He'll make me better." I think the thing that Evan has helped Jordan is mostly on the mental game. I think Jordan's strength is that he is mentally tough. He wants the game to come down to a field goal and he wants to kick it. He wants to win the game. And Evan has told us, there are a lot of kickers who love kicking but they don't want the ball at the end of the game as bad a he does. Evan has told us that Jordan has an ability that I really couldn't see until the playoff game this year. That he has the ability to make an adjustment on that last step and so if the hold isn't just right. For instance in the U.S. Army All-American game the quarterback, Mark Sanchez, was his holder. He jammed the ball twice. Most high school kickers, especially from the ground, they could not have made those kicks. A lot of kickers have to have the ball perfect and Jordan makes an adjustment and I couldn't see it until this year and I saw it in a game where the quarterback didn't get the ball down and he kicked a 44-yarder from mid-air.
DM: Evan made a statement that I read it in a previous article, that USC and UCLA, "blew it" in regards to recruiting Jordan. Did they recruit him very heavily?
Gayla: Actually, both of them did, but UCLA really didn't need a kicker. USC recruited him heavily and then they offered a kicker and weren't able to sign him. Evan just talked to the recruiting guys there about two or three weeks ago and he said they knew they blew it. Jordan just hopes he gets a chance his sophomore year to kick a winning field goal against them at the Coliseum.
DM: As a Nebraskan, I'm glad that we were there when it counted.
Scott: That's for sure.
Gayla: Well, Jordan just said when I asked him, I'll tell you a little insight into his character, he was sitting at the dinner table doing the night of his football banquet and some of the older kids that had graduated a couple of years ago had been in the football office and they were there when our high school coach was getting calls, asking if Jordan was solid in his commitment to Nebraska. We were told by one of the college kids that Texas called. I've never confirmed this with our coach so I don't know if it's true, but I said to Jordan, how do you feel that Texas might have called and he didn't even flinch. What he said to me was, "I gave my word to Nebraska.". (This was before National Signing Day) And I'll tell you why it was easy for him to give his word and keep it was because everything Nebraska said to us, they kept their word to us. Jordan was able to keep his word because Coach Busch always kept his word. Always.
DM: How many games do you plan on attending next Fall?
Scott: Every one. I wouldn't want to miss a game. it's going to take a whole lot to keep us from missing a game. We will come even if he is not playing.
DM: We're putting together a tailgate in a lot next to the Lincoln Journal Star building that we rent from the Lincoln Youth Sports Authority and they use the money that they raise from that for their basketball leagues and soccer leagues. You're invited and welcome to come over.
Scott: That would be great. When we were on the recruiting visit we were driving, I think it was from the airport to the hotel, and we noticed some people out on a balcony at one of the hotels and there was this giant banner that said, Californians for Nebraska.
DM: Was that downtown at the Holiday Inn?
Scott: Yes, I talked to some people at the banquet and they were saying, yeah we were on the 8th floor and I said I saw your banner on that floor.
DM: For one of the trips, you'll have to go on the migration with us.
Scott: Definitely, that sounds like a great trip.
DM: There's an article about Californians for Nebraska in today's L.A. Times.
Scott: I saw it. It's a great article. I pulled it off your Huskerpedia and passed it around to a bunch of people. It was a great article.
DM: Last year I did aninterview with David Humm. He was Tom Osborne's first quarterback as a head coach. His comments about being recruited by Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne are very similar to your comments about Bush and Callahan.
DM: When is Jordan coming to Lincoln.
Gayla: Jordan graduates June 2nd. He will be in Lincoln June 5th. He's going to spend most of the summer and spend a significant period of time to work with Coach Kennedy because he wants to win the job and Jordan knows that it's not going to be easy and he's got his work cut out for him and he's gonna work. Right now he's already doing Coach Kennedy's strength and conditioning program. He's already been lifting for a year and a half with a strength and conditioning coach. Jordan goes to strength and conditioning, he does yoga twice a week, he does speed work, he kicks on Sundays and then starting this week, because soccer is over, he's going to get in the pool and do the pool work that Coach Downing wants him to do. We're going for the spring game and actually probably bringing a kid they've offered, another kid at our high school, we're going to be bringing him with us to the spring game. We're going to have a dinner here next week with all the kids that are going to Nebraska from around the county. This kid from Mesa College, Tyrone Spain, we're trying to get him over for dinner. Jordan Adams will be here. I think there's some kid from Nebraska coming with him, just trying to get a group of kids over that are going to Nebraska.
DM: What day is that?
Gayla: March 17th - Jordan is being inducted into the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in the San Diego chapter. He got picked as the offensive player of the year, which is pretty unusual for a kicker. Everybody has their local chapters and it's a scholar athlete honor and what they do is pick in each division scholar athletes and out of that group of kids they pick an offensive player of the year and a defensive and then their two names get sent to the next level, to the regional level, to see if they are chosen to go on to the national level. I don't know when that happens.
Another thing that you made me think of when you were talking about the former quarterback under Osborne, that John Carney told us about a year and a half ago when the recruitment process started, of course Carney wanted him to go to Notre Dame, but he said, Jordan you need to look at a school that won't just help you for the four years that you're there, but will help you after you're gone and what he was saying is you need to go to a school that has a significant alumni base. When John found out Jordan was considering Nebraska, John said, "That's what I'm talking about, Jordan, is that you will live maybe in places all over the country and you will find you'll need a job, etc. and Nebraska offers that."
DM: It's like the song says, we all stick together in all kinds of weather. Pederson made that comment with his speech.
DM: What about all these recruiting services like Rivals and Scout and Insiders - all of these internet recruiting services. Did they contact Jordan a lot?
Gayla: Yeah, I think they did an interview with him not too long ago that said what is one of the things you didn't like about the recruitment process? He said, all of you guys calling me. Because when you have a kid like ours that has a 4.2 GPA, he can't take more than one call a night. Literally, when September 1st came and the coaches started calling the first night, he didn't answer any of the calls. And then we told him, you want to play college ball, you gotta start talking to these guys. But it's kind of hard to say anything about them because, you know, Rivals especially has become fairly powerful and even though coaches say they don't look at that stuff, I think they do. For us we tried to find out who we felt would not take something Jordan said and twist it.
DM: You said Jordan found things on the Internet. Does he spend time on the internet at the Nebraska sites?
Scott: He gets it from Dad or Mom. You need to understand something about him. He went to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp the summer before his junior year and he heard a guy give his testimony that said, "You know what. Don't read the papers." So he really never has. Evan says one of his strengths is he has this ability to stay with it himself and not let what's happening, I mean he knows David Dyches is a great kicker and who he will be competing with, but Jordan will tell you that Jordan's competition is himself. Actually, the day the Parade All American list came out, I ran to the store and got the paper and I ask Jordan, how do you feel about it, because our niece, his cousin, was a Parade All American in soccer so it was kind of exciting to have two people in the same family. And Jordan said, Mom and Dad, I'm kind of embarrassed. We've had people say, how do you think he's going to deal with the status of being a football player in Nebraska and you know, I don't think there's an award out there that he didn't win these last three years and he never thinks about it - never. I'm not kidding. His mother and I care more than he does!
DM: I'm looking forward to meeting him.
Gayla: He's a lot quieter than his parents.
Scott: Definitely quieter than Dad.
DM: I enjoyed meeting and talking to you at the banquet. I'm obviously biased. I'll give you a little background on myself. I was born in a little town called Tilden, Nebraska which is less than 300 people and I went all the way through the 8th grade in a little town in north central Nebraska called Page. And the population there was 190. There were eight kids in my 8th grade graduating class. And then we moved my Freshman year to Ainsworth, Nebraska which is out in the middle of the state in the sand hills just below South Dakota. And that was a big metropolis of 2,000 people. I thought I was in the big city, because they had two movie theaters.
Gayla: I didn't have a movie theater. We had a drive-in theater. I grew up in a town that was smaller than Scott's high school graduating class here in San Diego. I graduated with 88 people. This jarred my memory of something that just happened about a week ago. Coach Busch forwarded us an e-mail where Steve Pederson wrote an e-mail to every student athlete at Nebraska telling them how proud he was for what they had accomplished over that weekend. And that just blew me away.
Scott: Yeah it was a very well written letter.
Gayla: We haven't even said enough about Scott Downing. We've talked a lot about Coach Busch because he was our recruiting coordinator, but I'll tell you one of the real selling points is we had heard from a lot of kickers, even on the college level you don't have anybody who knows what he's doing. Scott Downing knows kicking.
Scott: Yeah, he does, right off the bat we knew that. He knows kicking and we like the way he approaches it with Jordan. Jordan is very, very fortunate to have a position coach like Scott Downing who has been at Purdue, has been at Wyoming, knows kickers, understands kickers, but the kind of man of God that he is, like I said, there were things on our list that we felt like, boy if we got this, we'd be fortunate, and when we realized we were going to get it at Nebraska, we pinched ourselves. To have our son have a position coach whose involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes . . . because I'll tell you something we said when we went to San Diego State. We wanted them to understand that we felt like the contribution that Jordan is going to make to the football program, he's going to make it as much off the field as he is on the field. Our hope and desire would be as people who do what we do for a living, is that the community service that Jordan would perform, that they would really see the kind of work ethic he has as a kicker, because there are two different kinds of kickers. There's the kicker who thinks, hey I'm the kicker, I don't have to do everything the rest of the team does and then there's the kicker who says, I need to do everything that the team does and do better and do more. And I think Jordan is that kid. That said, we want the state of Nebraska to look inside ... this is a great kid and that's all we ever hear about .... Chris Brown, Josh Brown .... what unbelievable people they are .... Daren Erstad, unbelievable person and that's the expectation that we have that when Jordan walks away from Nebraska. Nebraska is a better place because he's been there and he's a better person because he's been there.
DM: Between you and me, I think Jordan is going to totally enjoy Nebraska and the people of Nebraska.
Gayla: There are two things that stick out to me also that I think is really important is that Nebraska was the only school we visited that had an intentional community service plan. Keith Zimmer is amazing and the competition of all the athletic teams.
Scott: The football team wants to win it.
Gayla: We couldn't believe it because I would say to a coach, "Well what do you do out in the community?" "Well, we've been thinking about doing this or that." but Nebraska says "We do this, this, this and this." They don't practice on Monday afternoons because the kids go out and do community service and I read on your HuskerPedia about them going to Omaha hospitals. Not only the community service stuff but also the academics. To have your son be able to go to a school where there's more academic All-Americans than any school in the nation, over Notre Dame, over Harvard. I'd say Princeton, Yale and Harvard recruited him the most and he just didn't want to go Ivy League. So what's your next best choice? Well, you want to go to a school that has a high level of academic All-Americans. It blew me away, the figures on this year's football team.
DM: It was one of the best ever.
Gayla: I read something Jordan said just recently that I don't recall him saying, but there was a quote and he basically just said it was the whole package ... academic support services, Dennis LeBlanc, amazing. Keith Zimmer, amazing - Katie Jewel, amazing. We wrote Pederson a letter and he couldn't write us back because it was against NCAA rules.
Scott: That was before he signed.
Gayla: Scott and I worked on a letter together that we sent that just affirmed everybody. Paul Miles - Jordan will probably tell you that of all the people he talked to on his official visit, Paul Miles impressed him the most. Here's a guy that comes out of a housing project out of New Jersey, comes to Nebraska, play, goes to the NFL, then goes to work for Nike, you know he had to be making big bucks working for Nike because he was in charge of their Olympic products and came back to work at the University of Nebraska. He went to Harvard, that's pretty amazing. And he came back to work at Nebraska. What does that tell you? He could probably have lived in New York City or anywhere in the world and he chose to come back to Lincoln.
DM: There will be a lot of those stories.
Gayla: We would love to be able to address anybody who's unsure about Callahan because, you know one of the things that appealed to us about him is that he's one of the few NFL coaches that ever drafter a kicker, Sebastian Janikowski. We knew that as soon as they started recruiting Jordan that Jordan was going to a place where the head coach appreciated the kicking game and the fact that he flew to see us on the first day that he could go out to make visits, blew us away. That was back in the last week in November. It was the first official visit day that they could make. He flew here and Scott went and picked him up at the airport and we think we're a pretty good judge of character. You know, I think a lot of parents, you have to be careful, if you get along with the coach you're assuming that your kid's going to play. All that means is that the coach cares about your kid - there are no assurances. I've read stuff, that people say well, did they promise your kid that he's going to start. I can tell you all they promised Jordan was that he would have a chance to compete and that's all he wants.
DM: And I think that's all they say to any of them. So what was Coach Callahan's visit like? Did he come to the house or did you go to dinner?
Scott: We picked him up at the airport and brought him to our house and Gayla cooked a great meal. We had Mexican food that night.
Gayla: They all want Mexican food. We even took Coach Downing out for Mexican food. How bad is it back there? Jordan told me I have to bring avocados every time I come.
Scott: It was a great visit. We had a wonderful time with him. We were very comfortable and it was kind of hard to believe that he was in our house, in our living room .
DM: What were most of things that he talked about? Did he emphasize the academics or anything that stuck out in your mind?
Gayla: He talked about how great the people are in Nebraska and how supportive they are of the boys. We have walked away from every one of these meetings believing we're putting our son in the hands of people who will love him and care about him like we do.
DM: I think that is the perfect note to end it on.
Gayla: A last tribute to Bill Busch. He is the one that found and recruited Alex Smith to Utah and Alex Smith's mom, the night they were on their way to the Heisman Trophy dinner the person they called from their limo was Bill Busch. And that's how we feel. You know it's interesting because Jordan was a pretty high profile and there were some other kickers getting offers because they were associated with this one kicking camp that we're not a part of, and in many ways, Bill Busch found our son and got to him before these other schools did. It's like a lot of coaches, say sometimes what makes the best impression on the kid is the first school that offers. That's what Jordan said. He said, "Mom, Nebraska always wanted me." To have that, a kid knowing that so and so wanted me, but they wanted me after their season was over and so and so wanted me when they had to admit that the kicker they recruited wasn't going to cut it and Jordan said, "Nebraska always wanted me."
DM: Jordan's high school coach said "The whole state of Nebraska is going to fall in love with this kid." After talking with his parents it's easy to see why. If you would like to email Jodan's parents feedback on this article please send it to this address.