SALT LAKE CITY — Sports fans across Utah were shocked Saturday after learning of the death of 19-year-old rising football star Ty Jordan.
Jordan was a freshman running back for the University of Utah and made a big impact in the short five games he played with the Utes. His impressive play on the field earned him the distinction of PAC-12 offensive freshman of the year.
Jordan was home in Texas for the holidays. Denton, Texas police confirmed to FOX 13 Saturday morning that one male victim had died after accidentally discharging a firearm in their home. They have not confirmed at this time whether that individual was Jordan, but the University of Utah Athletics Department released a statement hours later indicating that Jordan passed away Saturday morning.
There was an outpouring of support for the Jordan family all over social media Saturday. Football fans were devastated after hearing the news.
"Pretty gut-wrenching," said Chad Vargo. "You know, it's been a crazy year, and it's just like, here's one more thing that's happened. Another sad thing to happen."
Shane Robinson, the managing editor of BlockU.com, a Utah athletics blog page, hoped there was some sort of error in the reporting when he saw the news.
"You just keep refreshing Twitter to see that it's been debunked," Robinson said. "So yeah, it was pretty immediate heartbreak once everything looked to be confirmed."
People across Utah were also shocked to hear of Jordan's passing. Governor-elect Spencer Cox tweeted: "Our hearts are broken for Ty Jordan and his family. Over the past few weeks he completely won this Aggie over."
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
Teammate and quarterback Jake Bentley wrote: "Grateful our lives crossed paths. You will forever be missed."
Wide receiver Britain Covey added: "the whole state/country feels it today. Please pray for the Jordan family, it's been a tough year for them."
"With Ty's story, with what happened with his mom being sick and passing away, he just has one of those stories where you want to cheer for the kid and root for the kid," Robinson said.
Jordan's mom passed away in August after battling cancer. Robinson said the loss had a big impact on his play this season.
"He just wanted to dedicate every single play every single game for her," he added. "He did a bang-up job in his short time with us."
Vargo said he was a fan of Jordan's from the moment he saw him touch the ball.
"Once he took his first play against USC, and I think his first play was a 15-yard run, you could just tell okay this kid's going to be special," Vargo said.
"I truly believe he could've been on the Mount Rushmore for Utah running backs, for sure," Robinson added.
Robinson said that Jordan was an equally exciting player off the field.
"Nothing slowed him down, whether it was the pandemic or getting games canceled or delayed," he said. "He always had such a great attitude about everything that was around it. He was always super enthusiastic."
Vargo added that he wants the Jordan family to know they have the support of the entire Utah community.
"We're with you," Vargo said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We wish them the best, and may Ty rest in Peace."
Fans across social media called for the university to do something to commemorate Jordan — some calling for the retirement of his jersey number, others for Rice-Eccles Stadium to dedicate section 22 to him. All of them said his presence will be remembered for a long time.
The university's athletics department tweeted that the "U" letter on the mountain was already scheduled to be lit Saturday night for another purpose, but it would also be done in honor of Jordan's passing.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) December 27, 2020