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BOULDER, Colo. - April 5, 2021: Colorado defensive lineman Janaz Jordan during the Buffaloes’ spring football practice on Monday in Boulder. (University of Colorado Athletics)
BOULDER, Colo. – April 5, 2021: Colorado defensive lineman Janaz Jordan during the Buffaloes’ spring football practice on Monday in Boulder. (University of Colorado Athletics)
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Although he’s been at the University of Colorado for two years and is already going into his third season with the football team, Janaz Jordan has not been in the spotlight.

He has been a valuable piece to the puzzle on the Buffaloes’ defensive line, however.

A former junior college transfer, Jordan earned his way into the starting lineup last season and doesn’t appear to be slowing down as the Buffs have gone through the first five practices of spring.

“Janaz has been a pleasant surprise from a year ago,” CU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said this week. “He’s got a lot of growth in him. He’s got a really high ceiling.”

Listed at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, Jordan took over as the starting nose tackle for the last four games of the abbreviated 2020 season, finishing with 11 tackles. He had 12 tackles in a reserve role in 2019.

Jordan came to CU after playing his freshman year at Hinds (Miss.) Community College. Although he was recruited by the previous coaching staff, Jordan fits well in Wilson’s system.

“There’s been a lot of D-line coaches here in the last few years and what we’re doing now is we’ve got a system and we’ve got a guy (Jordan) who actually believes in what we’re doing right now,” Wilson said. “What I mean by that is we’ll tailor everything towards our players, so we’re asking these guys to do things that they can do. It’s not about the system. It’s really about the personnel, so he fits our personnel. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic, and we’ve just got to keep working on this conditioning.”

Although Jordan started four of the six games, 6-foot-6, 325-pound sophomore Jalen Sami actually played more snaps at defensive tackle. Wilson said between the two, the Buffs have a good duo.

“You get a guy like Jalen Sami, who’s also a big, prototypical defensive tackle,” Wilson said. “You combine those guys, you have really great tandem of interior tackles, as well as nose guards. They’ve got size, they’ve got length, they’ve got power at the point of attack. So right now it’s just getting their fundamentals in great position, as well as getting in great shape.”

Deal approved

CU’s board of regents approved Wilson’s three-year contract on Thursday by a vote of 5-2. Regents Jack Kroll and Callie Rennison voted against the contract, while chair Glen Gallegos and Nolbert Chavez were absent.

The Buffs’ defensive line coach in 2020, Wilson was promoted to defensive coordinator in January. His new contract, which runs through Feb. 14, 2024, replaces the two-year deal he signed a year ago.

Under the terms of his agreement, Wilson will receive an average salary of $600,000. He is set to earn $550,000 this year, $600,000 in 2022 and $650,000 in 2023. Due to COVID-19, Wilson will have a five-percent salary reduction through June 30.

This was the sixth consecutive time, dating back to February of 2018, that at least one regent has voted against a football contract; at least two regents have voted against the last five.

Kroll, who joined the board in 2017, voted in favor of football contracts the first two times he had a chance but has voted against them the last five times.

Van Diest stepping up

With Nate Landman sidelined this spring as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, and Akil Jones graduating and moving on, junior Jonathan Van Diest is the most experienced inside linebacker in the group this spring.

Van Diest has seven career starts under his belt and is competing for a starting role this spring.

“He’s doing well,” Wilson said. “Not only is he in his optimum shape, he’s really a good decision-maker. We always say that’s a leadership position. (Inside linebackers) are kind of the quarterback of our defense. What I like that he’s done is he’s doing a great job with leadership, getting guys lined up, putting them in the right positions and being decisive. He’s done a really great job for us.”

Oklahoma transfer Robert Barnes, junior Quinn Perry and freshmen Marvin Ham II, Zephaniah Maea and Alvin Williams have also been competing at inside linebacker.

Notes

Offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said tight end Brady Russell, who missed the last four games of the 2020 season with a leg injury, is limited this spring but on track to be fully healthy in the fall. “He was a dominant player in (the UCLA) game for us,” Chiaverini said. “Now we need Brady back 100% and he’s headed that way.” … CU was off on Thursday but will conduct its first scrimmage of the spring on Friday at Franklin Field. The scrimmage is closed to the public. … Chiaverini said that in addition to watching the quarterbacks and young tight ends during the scrimmage, “I’m excited to see (running back) Ashaad Clayton get touches.” Clayton was one of CU’s top recruits in 2020.