DALLAS – Utah running back Ty Jordan, the Pac-12's Offensive Freshman of the Year, has died, the Utah football team announced via Twitter on Saturday.
Jordan was in North Texas over the holidays, a friend and former coach told the Dallas Morning News, but details about his death were not immediately shared by authorities in the area.
Utah played in only five games this year in a conference-shortened schedule, but Jordan made the most of it, rushing for 597 yards and six touchdowns on 83 carries. Jordan was the first player in school history to win the Pac-12's Offensive Freshman of the Year award. He also earned second-team all-conference honors.
Jordan's head coach at West Mesquite, Jeff Neill, told the News in a text message: "We are all so saddened at the news this morning. His smile was infectious and his spirit shined bright on everyone that knew him. We all loved Ty."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham released this statement regarding Jordan's death: "Words cannot express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling right now upon learning of the tragic death of our teammate and brother, Ty Jordan. Ty's personality and smile were infectious and he made a huge impact on our program in the short time he was with us. He leaves an indelible mark on each of us and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. From the bottom of our hearts, all of us in the Utah Football Family want to say we love you Ty and may you rest in peace."
Jordan starred on the field and on the track at West Mesquite High School near Dallas. He had 13 games with at least 100 yards rushing, finishing his career with 2,589 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns. He was also named Co-District 7-5A Offensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Jordan was also a highly touted recruit. The three-star recruit was the No. 8 all-purpose running back prospect in the country, according to 247Sports, and he was the No. 20 overall player in the SportsDayHSTop 100. He originally committed to Texas, but ultimately decided to head west for Utah.
Jordan also made headlines off the field. During his senior season a photo of him and Sherman defensive back Gage Smith drew national attention. Smith, a teammate of Jordan's on True Buzz's 7on7 team, prayed with Jordan after West Mesquite beat Sherman 56-27.
At the time, Jordan's mother, Tiffany, had stage 4 lung and bone cancer.
"It was meant for just me and him to have a moment and to pray over his family and for his mom," Smith told NBC TODAY. "I just wanted to let him know there are other people thinking about him and his family, and let him know he has somebody to turn to."
The photos — and the outpouring of support that followed — eventually made their way back to Jordan's mother.
"I was speechless," Tiffany Jordan told NBC TODAY. "It made me cry. [Smith] didn't have to do that. The fact that he took the time to pray with Ty for me, that took my breath away."
Jordan reported in August that his mother had died.
This past season looked like the start of a promising college football career for Jordan. Before him, only one other player at Utah had won an annual conference award. That was Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss, who was named the conference's Offensive Player of Yhe year last year.
There was an outpouring of condolences on social media, including one from Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell.