Former player Jordan Wynn schooling next-generation QBs at Hawaii

Tuesday October 29th, 2013

Jordan Wynn retired from playing football after suffering four significant shoulder injuries at the University of Utah.
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The workday begins at 5:30 a.m. Jordan Wynn will rise from his bed in his off-campus apartment in Honolulu and be in the Hawaii football facility by 5:45. The 23-year graduate assistant, who also serves as the quarterbacks coach, is usually the first person in the building. As the sun rises he'll sit at his desk and finish writing his practice script.

At 7:00 a.m. practice begins. After a session that will last a little less than two hours, the Rainbow staff meets at 10:30 to review what transpired during the practice. At noon Wynn begins game planning for the next opponent and makes recruiting calls. At 4:45 he holds a meeting with his quarterbacks to watch film. He'll typically leave the building at 10 and return home, where he'll study for a few hours. He's taking two online classes -- Global Health Issues and Disability Studies -- as he works toward his Master's degree.

"It's a very hectic schedule and I don't have much time for myself, but I'm loving life," Wynn says. "My goal is to be a head coach by the time I'm 32 and run a program. I know that's aiming very high, but if that's going to happen, I've got to work hard. I love it."

If you want to know who the next Kliff Kingsbury could be in college football -- the coach of Texas Tech is only 34 -- then take a look at Wynn. A native of Oceanside, Calif., Wynn accepted a scholarship to Utah in the fall of 2008. Midway through his true freshman season Wynn became the starting quarterback. Though he didn't have the strongest arm, even as a 18-year-old he could read defenses like a veteran.

In six games as a freshman he completed 104 of 179 passes for 1,329 yards and eight touchdowns. In the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl he led the Utes to a 37-21 win over California. He was named the game's MVP, which capped the most impressive season by a true freshman quarterback in school history. His future brimmed with possibilities.

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But over the next three years the slightly built Wynn suffered four significant shoulder injuries that required four surgeries. He retired from the game in his senior year on Sept. 10, 2012 after he tore the labrum in his left shoulder against Utah State. It was enough for him. "I've been playing football since I was seven," Wynn says. "When I started college I really thought I'd make it to the NFL. But after the injuries I started thinking about coaching."

Wynn had other options. For two days in the fall of 2012 he served as an analyst for ESPN, breaking down college games. He was a natural on television, but he missed being in the locker room and around the players. He started talking to Norm Chow, who had been Wynn's offensive coordinator at Utah before becoming the head coach at Hawaii in 2012. Wynn had acted like an assistant coach for the Utes after his fourth shoulder injury -- he sat in on meetings and was constantly counseling the healthy Utah quarterbacks -- and he quickly discovered that he enjoyed sitting on the other side of the table in meetings and being on the sideline during games and talking to the quarterbacks.

Chow offered Wynn a position on his staff in November 2012. It only took Wynn a few heartbeats to accept. "Jordan is a gifted coach," says Rainbow offensive line coach Chris Naeole. "He's integral in coming up with our offensive game plan and even though he's basically the same age as some of our players, everyone treats him with respect. He commanded that right away."

Indeed, Wynn doesn't socialize with the players. Even though he attended football camps in high school with the Rainbows starting quarterback Sean Schroeder -- Wynn and Schroeder were both members of the class of 2008 -- the two maintain a professional, coach-player relationship. "But there are times that it helps that I'm young," Wynn says. "I tell them that I was just there playing. I preach how important it is to take care of your body because I know what it's like to be injured. I also understand all the movie references they use that will leave the other coaches scratching their heads. I definitely can relate to them."

It's been a difficult, disappointing season for the 0-7 Rainbows. Yet that hasn't sapped the spirit of the team's youngest coach. "There are times I'll catch myself on the field wishing I could still be playing, but the next best thing is coaching," Wynn says. "I'm loving every minute of this."

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