COLLEGE PARK — A little over a year ago, the Maryland football team’s indoor practice facility officially opened amid much fanfare and celebration. There were speeches by university president Wallace D. Loh and football coach DJ Durkin, among others.
On Monday morning, the mood was much different inside the new Cole Field House, where the team and interim coach Matt Canada gathered to announce plans to honor Jordan McNair, who died June 13 after suffering heatstroke during a May 29 conditioning test.
Canada, who was named interim coach when Durkin was placed on administrative leave Aug. 11, said in his opening remarks that “since Jordan’s passing, we have as a football team been grieving and mourning as a football team together. Our football players have spent a lot of time trying to decide the best way to honor Jordan.”
In announcing the plans, offensive linemen Ellis McKennie and Johnny Jordan spoke on behalf of the team about the need to keep the memory of McNair alive.
“We come here today as University of Maryland football players to change the conversation,” McKennie said. “It’s time to get back to what’s important and that’s honoring our fallen friend, brother and teammate, Jordan McNair. The moment that we stop saying his name, the moment that we begin to forget, his legacy will begin to fade.
“We plan to have his legacy live on forever. We plan to never forget. This season, Jordan’s spirit will be living in each and every one of us. Every play we make, every snap we take will be in Jordan’s honor. As I said at the funeral, Jordan was fearless. He was a dreamer. He would do anything for his teammates. He fought until his very last breath for his teammates and now we would like to honor him.”
McKennie said the Terps will wear a sticker with McNair’s No. 79 on the back of their helmets throughout the 2018 season and will hold moments of silence before the season opener Sept. 1 against Texas at FedEx Field as well as before the home opener two weeks later against Temple at Maryland Stadium.
When the team moves into the new facility, the offensive line meeting room will be named in honor of McNair, a 19-year-old from Randallstown and former McDonogh standout. A scholarship will be given in his name to one Maryland athlete every year, McKennie said.
Jordan said no Maryland player will wear McNair’s jersey number for the next four years, corresponding with what would have been the span of his college career.
McNair’s locker at Gossett Team House will be encased in glass and moved when the team moves to Cole Field House. McNair will also be honored on what would have been his senior day.
“Jordan was one of the best friends, teammates and roommates that anyone could ever ask for,” said Jordan, who was a member of the same recruiting class as McNair. “He was a gentle giant and we as a team will continue to carry on his legacy through this season and far beyond."
Jordan thanked the fans for their support they have shown to the players since McNair’s death.
“It is now more than every that we need your support,” he said. “We’ve been working hard all summer and all training camp to make you proud of everything we do. We’re all in this together.”