Humble. Beast. Champion. Winner.
Those are all words that come to mind when describing future Utah Ute running back Jordan Wilmore. Not to mention, he is the most decorated player to come out of Lawndale High School.
Wilmore made it habit of abusing defenses as a three-year starter as he rushed for 6,745 yards and 77 touchdowns. He is the type of runner who gets better with each touch during a game. At 5’9” and 200 pounds, he possesses the perfect blend of speed and power. Also, Wilmore can catch it out the backfield.
The game where Lawndale’s superstar realized he was a Division I (D1) talent was in a playoff game in 2016. Wilmore and the Cardinals geared up to face a vaunted Summit team led by current USC tailback Stephen Carr.
Carr entered the game with all the pre-game hype, for good reason, but Wilmore stole the show. He outpaced Carr as he rushed for 325 yards and four touchdowns in a game where he was only a sophomore at the time. It was clear Wilmore was destined for big things in the years to come.
Yet, it wasn’t always clear that the four-star back would be the player he is today.
Wilmore started his high school career at Serra (Gardena), a Southern California powerhouse known for producing D1 prospects. He figured he would be the next big time player to grace the field, but the reality is he was overlooked.
“That was a humbling experience because I came into high school all big-headed from my Pop Warner success,” said Wilmore. “That taught me to always be humble and never satisfied.”
Instead of sulking or waiting for his chance in a crowded Serra backfield, Wilmore forged his own destiny by going a few miles north to Lawndale. He went from a place with a winning history and an accelerated path to a D1 offer to a school that had a history of losing and hardly showed as a blip on the collegiate radar.
From 2004 to 2014, the Cardinals were nothing more than a football doormat. During that span, they went 39-73 with just two playoff appearances and no league titles. Things changed when they hired current head coach Travis Clark in 2015.
Since then, Lawndale has gone 40-14 with four playoff appearances and won two outright league titles. Clark had been used to this kind of success going back to his days at Santa Monica (2009-2014) as he went 41-28 and missed the playoffs once during his tenure at his alma mater.
Even with all the success, Clark still yearned for a CIF championship. Luckily, Wilmore shared that same passion.
Lawndale came close to winning big in 2016 and 2017, but in 2018 they put it all together. They went on to win not only a CIF championship, but a 2-A State championship.
With his high school days behind him, Wilmore is looking forward to his collegiate career in Salt Lake City. He talked about why Utah was the right school for him.
“Utah is the perfect fit for me because I fit everything they’re doing with their program,” stated Wilmore.
Family and football are the words the young back used to describe the Utes’ program. During the entire recruiting process, he felt the energy coming from the coaches and players was genuine. That was one of the main reasons why he signed his letter of intent with them.
Wilmore said, “You can’t just go to a school without a bond with the coaches and more importantly the players.”
That sense of bond and genuine energy wasn’t something he felt with USC. The relationships were shaky and untrustworthy leading to his de-commitment. Regarding what it will be like when he faces the Trojans, Wilmore put it quite simple.
“It’s the hometown team I’ve got to put an extra pep in my step,” exclaimed the future Ute.
And while he has morphed himself into quite the sensation on the field, Wilmore knows it all wouldn’t be possible without the sacrifices of his father, Roe, who is never too far away from the action on the gridiron.
Wilmore talked about the role his dad has played in his football journey.
“My dad has played an important role through all of this because, for one, if it wasn’t for him there wouldn’t be me today, period. He put the ball in my hand and sacrificed so much for me to be who I am today,” said Wilmore.
In meeting Roe on many different occasions at practices or games, it’s clear that Wilmore epitomizes him. They are both easy to connect with, humble, and often smiling.
Roe was the one who put a football in the young back’s hands as a kid. Now, his son will be toting the rock for a blue-collar program.
As Wilmore inches towards his big move to Salt Lake City, he is keeping it simple with his training. He is focusing on getting his legs bigger. This will help him at the next level as yards will be tougher to come by.
Wilmore is looking to come in and build a reputation as a hard worker and good teammate. No matter what word is used to describe him, Wilmore wants to continue to be remembered as a winner.