The return of the D.C. Defenders has been a glorious one so far. The Beer Snake and its team are back better than ever. The Defenders stand atop the XFL, undefeated at 6-0, with a championship in their sights. But it’s also returning quarterback Jordan Ta’amu who is reaching new heights.
Jordan Ta’amu has produced modest numbers thus far as a passer in D.C.’s run-at-all-costs offense: He’s thrown for 903 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Ta’amu’s also rushed for 203 and two scores. However, he’s coming off his best game of the season versus Houston. (19/31 243 yds passing, 2 TDs). Ta’amu has also shown great poise and leadership as he matures in the next phase of his career.
A New Chapter In The Career Of Jordan Ta’amu
The new patron saint of quarterback reclamation projects is 32-year-old Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl quarterback Geno Smith. It used to be NFL hall of famer Kurt Warner. Who once upon a time took the most unique journey to superstardom after being cast off into the unknown.
Geno Smith famously said during his comeback player of the year 2022 NFL season, “They wrote me off, but I ain’t write back though.”
It’s much easier to write off a quarterback like Jordan Ta’amu than it was for Geno Smith, who at least remained within arms reach of another shot at a starting job while navigating NFL rosters as a backup for several seasons.
Despite just recently turning 25 years old. Jordan Ta’amu’s NFL window could be closed. However, finding a way to break through unconventionally has been something the Hawaii native has done his entire playing career.
From New Mexico Military Institute To Ole Miss And The SEC
Anyone who has closely followed spring pro football and the XFL since 2019 knows the Jordan Ta’amu story. Here’s a brief detour back to where it all started for Ta’amu leading up to the present day.
Since he started his playing journey, one prevailing theme about Jordan Ta’amu is doubt, and it’s followed him every step of the way.
It doesn’t matter if they come from a small island or where they come from, even if they went the junior college route or Division II route, it doesn’t matter what route they took, just give them hope that they can play at this level.”Jordan Ta’amu to CBSSports.com’s Barrett Sallee back in 2018
Ta’amu attended Pearl City High school in Hawaii. As a senior, he started for two seasons at quarterback and led his school to state title games in 2013 and ’14. In his senior season, he was All-State and named Offensive Player of the Year.
However, despite his success in Pearl City, Jordan Ta’amu did not receive a single Division I scholarship offer. He had only two junior college offers on the table.
Unwanted QB To Unlikely SEC Starter
Ta’amu wound up playing at the junior college level at New Mexico Military Institute for two seasons, breaking out as a sophomore passing for 3,014 yards, rushing for 328, and accounting for 39 total touchdowns. He was rated as a three-star prospect but only had two offers from Power Five programs: Ole Miss and Minnesota.
Ta’amu transferred to Ole Miss in 2017, entering the season as the backup to five-star recruit Shea Patterson before taking over as the starter for the final five games after Patterson suffered an injury.
Ta’amu took the SEC by storm and finished the season with 1,682 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He ended the year with a 66.5 completion percentage. Ta’amu also rushed for 165 yards and four touchdowns. The surprise performance by Jordan at Ole Miss led to Shea Patterson transferring to the University of Michigan.
No longer under the radar or overlooked, Ta’amu entered the 2018 season with the spotlight shining directly on him as the Rebels’ starting quarterback. In his senior season, he completed 63.6 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,918 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He also rushed for 342 yards and six touchdowns. Jordan Ta’amu finished the season ranked second in SEC passing yards behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.
Jordan Ta’amu Flies Under The Radar Again
While his time in Oxford was short-lived, Ta’amu owned single-season school records for yards-per-attempt (9.37), 300-yard passing games (9), and 400-yard passing games (3).
Despite coming out of nowhere to be an unlikely standout in the SEC. Many doubters were dismissive of Ta’amu’s accomplishments in college. Jordan Ta’amu was labeled as a flash in the pan who was carried by an elite supporting cast that included the all-world talents of DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown.
What also didn’t help Ta’amu’s college reputation and pro prospects was his poor showings against elite competition. He completed only 44 percent of his passes with one touchdown and four interceptions in games against LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi State.
Despite having the prototypical size at 6’3 220, with a strong arm and good mobility. Jordan Ta’amu was not sought after in the 2019 NFL draft process. NFL teams bypassed him completely. He wasn’t even treated as a priority undrafted free agent. Ta’amu worked out at rookie minicamps but wouldn’t land an NFL contract with the Houston Texans until August 7, 2019.
The late signing is a death knell for any prospective rookie NFL quarterback. With very little time to acclimate to a team, the pro game, or receive meaningful reps in practice/preseason. Predictably, Jordan Ta’amu was cut by Houston three weeks after he was signed.
Ironically enough, Ta’amu got the brief audition with the Texans because then Houston and now XFL quarterback A.J. McCarron suffered a thumb injury. The Texans needed an extra camp arm for the late summer.
The NFL may not have had a genuine interest in Jordan Ta’amu. But XFL 2.0 did, and they were waiting in the weeds and signed Ta’amu as the St. Louis Battlehawks first assigned quarterback in October of 2019.
Jordan Ta’amu’s Pro Rookie Season In The XFL
Rookie Jordan Ta’amu was one of XFL 2020’s brightest stars. His numbers weren’t as gaudy as his league counterpart P.J. Walker. But with the Battlehawks, through five games. Operating in a simplified RPO-styled offense, Ta’amu led the XFL in completion percentage (72%) while leading St. Louis to a 3-2 record. In his first five pro starts, Ta’amu threw for 1,050 yards and five touchdowns against two interceptions. He also rushed for 217 yards and a score.
Jordan Ta’amu Reenters The NFL
Ta’amu’s starring turn with St. Louis in the XFL opened the door for NFL opportunities. He would sign with the Kansas City Chiefs, make the team’s practice squad, and would serve a role mimicking the opposing team’s mobile quarterbacks in practice but would never see the field.
Ta’amu’s most significant contribution to K.C. would come in the week their defense held Lamar Jackson in check leading to a Chiefs victory. Jackson would finish the game 15/28 for only 97 yards passing while being sacked four times and fumbling twice. Ta’amu was openly credited by Chiefs defenders and coaches following that game.
Despite the support of teammates like Patrick Mahomes, who openly celebrated the Chiefs re-signing of Ta’amu on social media. Since 2020, Ta’amu has been nothing more than a stunt double in NFL practices. He’s had six different stints on five NFL team’s practice squads. However, he has not thrown a pass during an NFL regular season game.
With the XFL out of play due to COVID, bankruptcy, and a delayed resurrection. Ta’amu would seek playing time and reps in the USFL.
New Challenge For Jordan Ta’amu With Todd Haley
While things didn’t turn out perfectly for now temporarily defunct 4-6 Tampa Bay Bandits in USFL 2022, Jordan Ta’amu picked up the starting reps that alluded him since 2020 in the XFL. But most importantly, he had an opportunity to operate in Todd Haley’s pro-style offense. A break from the type of offenses, Ta’amu has played since college.
In the USFL, Jordan Ta’amu led the league in passing yards (2,014) and scores (14). He also led the Bandits with 365 yards rushing in ten games. It was far from a perfect performance by Ta’amu, as he did throw 12 interceptions while completing 57 percent of his passes. However, his ten starts in the USFL were a valuable learning tool and experience.
Jordan Ta’amu Makes His Way Back To The XFL
Once his USFL contract expired in the new year, Jordan Ta’amu officially rejoined the XFL. None of that was surprising, but what was, is where he ended up signing. To the dismay of Battlehawks fans, Jordan Ta’amu linked up with the D.C. Defenders instead.
The Ta’amu switch up to the District has added an extra layer of intrigue to the Battlehawks-Defenders rivalry. Thus far, Jordan has had the advantage over his former team, beating them twice this season. St. Louis and D.C. could meet again in the playoffs, with a championship game bid at stake.
But for now, Jordan Ta’amu, who has formed a dynamic QB duo effortlessly and selflessly with D’Eriq King. Ta’amu has his sights set on improving his team’s record to 7-0 this Saturday evening in Orlando.
Jordan Ta’amu’s Future Prospects
It must be hard for Jordan Ta’amu; he’s seen three XFL quarterbacks from 2020 start and win games in the NFL. Josh Johnson, P.J. Walker, and his Battlehawks backup Taylor Heinicke. All three have lasted in the NFL for three consecutive seasons. Walker and Heinicke just signed new contracts with different NFL teams and are going for season #4 since playing in the XFL.
Jordan Ta’amu’s pathway to the NFL may be closed despite him being only 25 years old.
Perhaps Jordan Ta’amu will always be a non-NFL league starting quarterback. Maybe being a starter in the XFL is as far as he goes in his pro-playing career.
Ta’amu could end up having the career ark of Luis Perez, and there would be nothing wrong with that. Perez has been a solid player who has progressively gotten better in each spring league he has played.
We are seeing it right now from Jordan Ta’amu in XFL 2023—maturity and a comfort level resulting from added playing time and experience.
Thanks to the existence of leagues like the XFL, the book on Jordan Ta’amu’s professional career has not closed yet. In fact, there are still more chapters to be written. And as unlikely as it sounds, maybe another shot in the NFL comes his way.
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