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Jordan Magee brings rare leadership to Commanders


Chris Woods is not the kind of person who makes snap decisions about players. He prefers to observe them for a bit, allowing them to paint the picture of how they want to be viewed for themselves.

That was the case when Woods, who joined the Temple Owls' coaching staff in 2022, first met Jordan Magee. The linebacker certainly looked the part, standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 225 pounds, but other than Magee's physical appearance, Woods didn't know much about his new player.

So, Woods sat back and let Magee paint his picture. What Magee created was a reputation of being a dependable, smart, productive player. It was for those reasons, and more, that Magee was gifted with the highest honor a Temple player can receive.

Single-digit jersey numbers are not a trifle thing at Temple. They are reserved for players who lead by example, both on and off the field, and represent the program's core values. Magee earned the honor twice, proving that he was a key piece to the Owls' success.

"It's a guy that's gonna do the dirty work that you need when maybe things aren't going well; the guy that's gonna be the leader and rally the troops and say the right things behind closed doors and be an extension of the coaching staff," Woods said.

Temple's jersey numbers are given out before the start of every season as part of a ceremony that involves a Zoom call with previous players who have earned the honor. The tradition has existed since 2009, and the list of recipients includes former Washington defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis, Haason Reddick, P.J. Walker and Muhammad Wilkerson.

Woods said the coaching staff was more involved when Magee first got a single digit, but the second time was driven entirely by the players. Whether it was the coaches or players who decided Magee got a single digit, both groups identified the same qualities that made it an easy choice.

"You gotta be a dude to be a single digit," Woods said.

Magee is not a traditionally vocal leader. That's not to say he is a meek person around his teammates, but it's also not his style to dance and show off during in pre-game warmups, either. He takes a more subdued approach, but his teammates see his actions.

Woods thinks Magee's teammates liked his style. Magee handled his business, Woods said, and he was always prepared from a mental and physical standpoint. It gave the appearance that Magee never had a bad day, which Woods guesses is why his teammates gravitated toward him.

"He does what I tell him to do," Woods said. "He tries his best. I never had to worry about his effort or toughness or being available at practice. He was always there, always ready to go, always kind of in a consistent mentality."

Getting a single digit jersey is not necessarily a "best player" award, but it helped that Magee was one of the most productive players on the team. He led the Owls in tackles during his final two seasons, earning all-conference accolades for his efforts.

That success, Woods said, is a credit to how coachable Magee was in college. The concepts might not always immediately click, but he got a firmer grasp after walking through things a few times. And when it came to constructive criticism, Magee never took it personally. Instead, he would listen and try to apply the lessons that Woods taught him.

A key example of that: Woods noticed that most draft evaluators pointed out that Magee's blitzing was his best quality. There was a time when that was the worst part of his skill set.

"When you tell him something...he takes it to heart," Woods said. "He'll attack it. It [blitzing] became one of his strong suits. I think it's just a product of how he approaches everything. It's not just football ... He is a hardworking guy and pays attention and tries to do what you ask him to do. And that goes a long way."

Magee doesn't like to get into why players are taken at certain spots in the draft, so he has no idea why he had to wait until the fifth round to see his name on the TV screen. However, he does know that even if Magee was taken earlier, it wouldn't change how he approaches his situation.

Magee is aware that there are no guarantees, and the qualities that earned him a single digit jersey are going to be useful at the next level.

"He knows the work has just started," Woods said. "He hasn't reached the end destination at all."

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