SALT LAKE CITY — Shock and grief filled social media on Saturday with the news that Utah Utes running back Ty Jordan had died Friday, apparently of a gunshot wound in the Dallas suburb of Denton, Texas.
Jordan, 19, was a freshman who won the Utes starting job during their abbreviated season and was recently named the Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year. He played his high school football in Mesquite, Texas, and finished 2020 with 597 yards and six touchdowns on 83 carries.
Tributes began pouring in early Saturday, and the Utes football Twitter account confirmed the news just after 10 a.m. with statements from head coach Kyle Whittingham and Utah athletic director Mark Harlan.
University of Utah President Ruth Watkins offered “love and condolences to Ty Jordan’s family, friends, teammates and coaches” on behalf of the university. “We are devastated by this heartbreaking news,” she tweeted. “To watch Ty on the field was to be thrilled by his athleticism and talent.”
On behalf of the entire University of Utah, our love and condolences to Ty Jordan’s family, friends, teammates and coaches. We are devastated by this heartbreaking news. To watch Ty on the field was to be thrilled by his athleticism and talent. Rest In Peace, Ty. https://t.co/nPyMWq6Z5M
— Ruth V. Watkins (@RuthVWatkins) December 26, 2020
The university plans to light the “U” that hangs in the hills over campus Saturday night in honor of Jordan, athletic department employees said.
Gov. Gary Herbert expressed his sadness and offered prayers Saturday evening. He tweeted, “this is a great loss for the University of Utah, for our community and state, and for his family and friends.”
Very saddened to learn of Ty Jordan’s passing. This is a great loss for the University of Utah, for our community and state, and for his family and friends. Our prayers are with them tonight.
— Gov. Gary Herbert (@GovHerbert) December 27, 2020
Utah Gov.-elect Spencer Cox said Jordan’s play had “completely won this Aggie over…our family watched so we didn’t miss a single carry.”
“Prayers for his family and teammates,” he said.
I don’t have any info outside of what is being reported this morning, but our hearts are broken for Ty Jordan and his family. Over the past few weeks he completely won this Aggie over…our family watched so we didn’t miss a single carry. Prayers for his family and teammates.💔🙏 pic.twitter.com/GkrGDhANcn
— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) December 26, 2020
Tom Holmoe, athletic director of Utah’s archrival Brigham Young University, offered the Utes “much love” as tributes poured in from the rival school to the south.
“Kyle, Mark, Utah coaches, players and fans. My heart goes out to all of you and I pray for you at this time of Ty’s passing,” he said.
BYU coaches added similar prayers and well wishes for the Jordan family and Utah football, including defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki (who previously coached for the Utes) offering “‘Ofa atu,” a Tongan refrain for love and best wishes.
“Rest in Love Ty Jordan,” BYU receivers coach Fesi Sitake tweeted. “My heart is hurting for his family. My sincerest condolences to Utah Football and the Jordan family.”
— Solomon Enis (@SolomonEnis) December 26, 2020
Ford told Jordan to “take care” of his mother, who died of cancer earlier this year.
Our prayers go out to the Jordan family and the Utah Family. Thinking of you all during this difficult time. 🙏🏽 https://t.co/jf0loYV05z
— Washington State Football (@WSUCougarFB) December 26, 2020
Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell weighed in as well, saying he didn’t know the Utes star but could see he was bound for great things. “He had an amazing season as a freshman!! And was going to be an amazing talent,” Mitchell said.
Ryan Smith, the Qualtrics founder who recently purchased the Jazz, said Jordan was gone “way too soon.”
Tributes and memories from other fans, coaches and players continued to roll in throughout the day as the college football world mourned the loss of a promising player and beloved young man.