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Gilman defensive tackle Ellison Jordan names Maryland, Penn State, Virginia Tech his top three colleges

Gilman Greyhounds' Ellison Jordan (42) gestures vs the St. Frances Panthers' during a game on Sept. 26, 2014.
Gilman Greyhounds' Ellison Jordan (42) gestures vs the St. Frances Panthers' during a game on Sept. 26, 2014. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Gilman defensive tackle Ellison Jordan, a two-time All-Metro first-team selection, has narrowed his list of college football programs to three finalists — Maryland, Penn State and Virginia Tech.

Jordan, a four-star recruit ranked the No. 7 overall player in Maryland's Class of 2016 by the recruiting website Rivals.com, had more than 25 offers. He has visited his final three several times each and said they have a lot in common.

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"It was really the relationships I had there," Jordan said. "And while I was looking at schools, my parents always talked about [looking at] not just the football perspective but how I could fit there, academically, spiritually and socially, and I think they were the three best for me. I'm blessed for all the offers I had … but you can only go to one."

Jordan plans to visit Penn State on July 18 and Virginia Tech on July 25. He may make another trip to Maryland as well, although a family commitment may keep him away from Saturday's One Day Prospect Camp in College Park.

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He might make official visits in the fall, depending on when he commits. He doesn't have a strict time line for making his decision, he said, but it could come before the high school season starts in August.

The 6-foot-1, 260-pound Jordan caught the attention of college recruiters with his non-stop motor and his ability to disrupt an offense despite often battling multiple blockers. He had 16 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries last fall as the Greyhounds shared the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.

Whittling down a list that included such programs as West Virginia, Michigan State, Pitt, Boston College and Rutgers was tough, Jordan said, and picking the place he will spend the next four years likely will be even more difficult.

"I really don't have a favorite at this point. There's not a whole lot of separation," Jordan said. "There's only one school that has an advantage and that's Maryland because it's so close to my house [in Upper Marlboro], but that's not the only thing we have to look at. It's important that we look at everything to see what's best for the family. It's going to be hard, but I'm ready."

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Each has at least one former Gilman player on the roster — Kenneth Goins and Shane Cockerille at Maryland, Brian Gaia at Penn State and Melvin Keihn at Virginia Tech.

Jordan said he received congratulations from them after he Tweeted his final three Friday night. He has talked recently with Keihn and Gaia and said all four have offered to share their insights about their programs. Having a former teammate at college also will help him make the transition, he said.

Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell said any of the three programs would be a good fit for Jordan.

"He's really familiar with all three of them. He's visited them multiple times. He's gotten to know the coaches and the guys on the teams," Russell said. "And they're all kind of local schools within decent driving range. I think that's important for a very, very close family. Academically, all three are very good fits for Ellison. They all do a nice job of getting their players all the help they need to be ready for graduation."

Russell also said all three schools have been sending players to the NFL and they have the coaching staffs to develop young talent to make that jump if they're good enough.
Jordan, who is considering majoring in business management, said he's learned to look well past football when making his final decision.

Gilman coach Biff Poggi "told me, 'Don't really focus a lot on the football, because football will take care of itself.' If I keep doing what I'm doing I'll be OK, so I think I need to deal with my needs, and my needs are more important off the field than on the field."

"I want to make sure to talk to the coaches about how I can succeed academically, spiritually and socially, because you know how the recruiting goes," he continued. "I don't get involved in the hype about things. I want to ask some real questions like, 'What can I do to succeed?'"

Jordan is one of three local prospects that The Baltimore Sun is following through the recruiting process with an occasional series. Franklin's Steven Smothers and McDonogh's Eric Burrell have not yet narrowed their lists. For the latest update on them, click here.

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