NORMAL — A knee injury delayed the start of Jordan Lawrence’s senior football season until week five. It did not derail the Normal Community High School defensive end’s opportunity to play in college.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Lawrence signed a national letter of intent with Indiana State on Wednesday, the first day of football's early signing period.
Lawrence said he also had offers from Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois and Southeast Missouri State, but Indiana State “was kind of the front runner for me.”
“I liked Illinois State, but once they kind of stopped recruiting me, Indiana State was my primary option,” Lawrence said.
A transfer this year from University High, Lawrence made his season debut against Peoria Manual on Sept. 21. He admits being “kind of rusty” in that game, but the next week had a sack among his tackles in a win over Bloomington.
“After that, I found my way throughout the rest of the season,” he said. “I think my explosiveness off my first step is probably my biggest strength. Not a lot of guys as heavy as me can get off the line as quick as I can. There’s also hand speed and being able to get their hands off of me quickly.”
NCHS coach Jason Drengwitz called Lawrence “a really good football player with a huge upside.”
“He’s 6-4 and he’s athletic,” Drengwitz said. “He played basketball before (for three years at U High). College coaches look at him and see the upside.
“He’s an outstanding student as well. I have him in class and he’s a real pleasure to be around on a daily basis outside of the game of football.”
Lawrence plans to major in sports marketing with a possible minor in communications. He takes the academic side seriously and said head coach Curt Mallory and his Indiana State staff do as well.
It’s among the things that attracted Lawrence to the Sycamores.
“I like the fact class sizes are not huge. I can spend time with my instructors,” he said. “The coaching staff has a rule that all of the football players have to sit in the front row of their classes and the professors know it. I like that.
“Every kid’s dream is to go to the league (NFL). But in reality, it’s not going to happen for everybody. Graduating with a degree and being able to find a job after college, that’s my biggest thing. You always have to strive to be good in the classroom.”