Jordon Lewis Brookshire is a winner.
In high school, he piloted powerhouse Cardinal Newman High in Santa Rosa, CA, to 31 victories in the 40 games he started. Brookshire accumulated over 11,000 yards in total offense in his high school career and won All-Empire Large School Player of Year honors his senior year while leading his team to a section championship.
Despite his gaudy stats, Brookshire began his college career at nearby Santa Rosa Junior College before transferring to Laney Community College in Oakland, CA, his sophomore season. At Laney, he led the school to its first-ever state title scoring five touchdowns and earning MVP of the title game. On the year, he accounted for 2,931 yards and 36 touchdowns in only 13 games.
“Jordon first and foremost is a winner,” Laney head football coach John Beam told EVT on Wednesday. “He has won at every level and anything that he does. His teammates love playing for him has an infectious winning attitude. He was willing to leave his comfort zone at Santa Rosa, a white-wealthy suburb and come to inner-city Oakland and he thrived in this environment.”
Winning and dominating on the field was not enough for Brookshire to garner much interest from Division One schools. On tape, he was a tweener. He threw well enough to succeed in Junior College but did not display the rocket arm coaches covet. He was just fast enough at Laney to be effective in the run game but would be a step too slow at the next level.
Brookshire needed only one school to take their eyes off what he did not possess to see what he always had, elite intangibles that allowed him to excel. It took the eye of a former option quarterback, turned legendary head coach named Rocky Long, who thrives at winning unconventionally, to look at Brookshire in the light he deserved.
One month after Laney’s championship game, Brookshire committed to San Diego State. With a senior quarterback at the position, he redshirted his first year on the Mesa in 2019.
Last year brought a myriad of changes. On the field, Brookshire had to learn a new offense following Long’s retirement and a new offensive coordinator taking over. Off the field, Covid made 2020 a year like no other. With little practice time available, Brookshire was not given much time to prove himself to the new staff in the preseason. He began the year fourth on the quarterback depth chart.
Across college football, a quarterback that low in the pecking order with three years of eligibility would be a perfect candidate to transfer, but Brookshire toughed it out, and something started happening in practice. He kept fighting, made plays every day, and earned the respect of each player and coach on the team. Brookshire worked his way from the bottom of the depth chart to starter for the final two games of the season.
“Jordon is a tough competitor,” Offensive Coordinator Jeff Hecklinski remarked back on April 1. “The amount of respect I have for Jordon coming through last year. In a day and age where it is not common for people to stick through and push and compete, you really saw that in Jordon. When Jordon got his chance, he went in there and played tough. He’s got a lot of energy and a lot of respect on the team.”
Brookshire’s first real action as an Aztec came against Colorado last year. He entered the game off the bench, relieving starter Carson Baker. The following week, he earned his first start, leading SDSU to a 29-17 win over Colorado State. Brookshire also started the final game of the year against BYU. The Aztecs lost the game 28-14, but it was easily the most balanced the offense looked all season.
More than any other quarterback last year, Brookshire played within the designs of Hecklinski’s run-pass option (RPO) offense. The ball was spread to more receivers making the offense less predictable. Brookshire has been running a version of the RPO since his high school days and at Laney College. That experience shined through late in 2020.
Overlooked once again by the fans and the media as the preparation for the 2021 season kicked off, Brookshire did what he has always done. He went to work. Off the field, he earned his degree, a Bachelor of Arts, Social Science, and began working on a Master’s program. On the field, he never allowed Lucas Johnson, the presumptive favorite, to win the position in 2021, to create enough separation for the coaches to name Johnson the starter. Over the summer, he was among the senior leaders preparing the team for Fall Camp, leveraging the respect he earned during the 2020 season.
As the calendar turned to August, Brookshire did not let up, and when the team donned full pads, all of his intangibles shined. He was clearly the best quarterback in camp during the team’s two scrimmages. Following the first scrimmage, head coach Brady Hoke said the competition was tightening, but after the second scrimmage, Brookshire ran away with the job.
“Jordon, he just played better,” Hoke told the media today. “When you look at all the metrics – completions, drives we are able to finish with, getting out of third down situations, being productive in the red zone – we used all those metrics, put (the QBs) in all those situations. Dog gone it, he just played better.”
Brookshire showed full command of the offense. He was the only quarterback to consistently use the entire play clock to dissect and discern the defense’s intention. On multiple occasions, with the coaches screaming to get the play off, Brookshire calmly took his time to make sure his side was ready. He was never called for a delay of game.
Most importantly, while the other quarterbacks struggled to take care of the football, Brookshire rarely put it in danger of a turnover. On his most glaring mistake of the two scrimmages, a dropped snap in the red zone. He showed great poise. He collected the ball, turned, and threw it out of the end zone in the direction of receiver Kobe Smith. Not only did Brookshire not take a huge loss on the play, but he also avoided an intentional grounding penalty.
Brookshire is far from a finished product. In both dress rehearsals, he left plays out on the field. He was inaccurate, missing open receivers for what should have been easy completions. The arm strength he displayed was adequate but not exceptional. Of the four quarterbacks, he gained the fewest yards on the ground.
Still, those areas of weakness do not erase the gains that are evident from last season. Instead of looking for the run, Brookshire used his feet to create time for his receivers to get open. His 45-yard pass to BJ Busbee in the second scrimmage would not have happened without Brookshire’s improvisation skills. He is also beginning to show more of an ability to make plays past his first read. He continues to spread the ball around, targeting more of the team’s playmakers than the other quarterbacks on the roster.
On Wednesday, the coaches confirmed the worst kept secret in San Diego. Brookshire has won the quarterback competition and, barring an injury, will be the starter for the first game against New Mexico State.
Time will tell if Brookshire has enough in his game to make the passing attack an equal component with the running game in SDSU’s offense. If the past is any indication of what the season holds, the Aztecs should do a lot of winning as Brookshire continues to grow at the position.
No matter the results, #4 will not be overlooked. As SDSU begins preparation for the first game in what they hope is the 22nd championship season in school history, all eyes are on Jordon Lewis Brookshire. Bet against him at your own peril.
“Since age ten, he doesn’t complain,” Darren Brookshire told EVT a few minutes after SDSU made the announcement official. “He has always done anything and everything asked of him and given everything. Jordon’s journey is unique and I believe it has prepared him to lead the Aztecs because… just because you put in the work, and you do what you believe is right at every turn, doesn’t mean someone is going to give you anything. You have to keep fighting, keep grinding, and keep working until you achieve success. I think that’s Jordon.”