When their son started first grade at Anderson Elementary in Eden Prairie, Minn., Steve and Anita Jordan had a message for his teacher.
It seemed Cameron Jordan had an extra wealth of energy and may need some special attention.
"We told the teacher that he's a smart kid, but he's not the traditional kid," Steve Jordan said. "Don't expect him to sit in the chair all day and do his work. He may need to get up and move around. He has all this energy he has to burn.
"So the teacher would let him get up and go to the back while she read to the class. Everybody is sitting down around the teacher and he's bouncing off the walls."
Word is Cameron Jordan can actually stay in his seat now for an entire lecture at Cal, but he's still a man on the move — mostly moving toward opposing quarterbacks. The junior defensive end is coming off a 21/2-sack performance last week against Washington State and hopes to continue that production when he returns home Saturday for a date at Arizona State.
"I don't think he's still bouncing off the walls, but it wouldn't surprise me," said Steve Jordan, a former Pro Bowl tight end with the Minnesota Vikings. "He's mellowed on that. But he gets bored. For him, boredom means he needs to be entertained or learning something new."
The Jordans moved from Minnesota to Chandler, Ariz., while Cameron was still in elementary school, and he went on to forge a decorated career at Chandler High. This will mark Jordan's second appearance in his hometown but the first as a proven Pac-10 defensive end.
After becoming a starter during the middle of his sophomore season because of an injury to Rulon Davis, Jordan emerged as a potential star. He earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention after recording 47 tackles, four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. He entered this year as the hands-down starter opposite Tyson Alualu and after a slow start has been rounding into form.
"The past two games or so I felt like I was playing back up to my potential," Jordan said. "I hope to keep it that way."
At 6-foot-4, 287 pounds, Jordan possesses the speed and athleticism to potentially be a dominant player. So far, though, he's displayed dominance just on a part-time basis.
Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory embraces Jordan's high-energy, fun-loving personality but also has had to implore him at times to remain focused.
"Sometimes he still needs to get refocused, like any young guy," Gregory said. "But he's certainly grown in that part of his development. He's a great guy to work with. He will do what you want him to do. He will run through a wall; it's just sometimes you have to make sure it's the right wall you're going through."
Gregory said there are still times when Jordan tries to engage teammates in some kind of sophomoric activity but he always practices hard.
"I feel like if I was too serious, it would take some fun out of the game," Jordan said. "I have fun at all the games. Anytime I'm allowed to hit somebody and laugh at him while I'm hitting him, it's awesome for me. Especially when it's a running back — anytime I can fully hit a running back when he's in a pass-blocking situation, it's so funny. If I can put them on their back, I'm usually laughing the whole play and probably the next couple plays."
Jordan has forged some of his more memorable moments against Arizona State, which he didn't really consider attending because it was going through a coaching change when he was being recruited. As a freshman, he had a 13-yard fumble return for his first collegiate touchdown. Then last year in Berkeley, he had eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He was named Pac-10 Player of the Week.
"What I love about playing with Cam is that he's always having fun," Alualu said. "It could be the fourth quarter or fourth down and everybody's dying, but Cam's personality and what he brings to the field kind of just pumps everybody up."
While Gregory and coach Jeff Tedford believe Jordan has harnessed some of his boyish energy in productive ways, they wouldn't be opposed to his taking the game even a little more seriously.
"I think it's a comfortable (compromise)," Jordan said. "They probably want me to be a little more serious than I am. But you have to have fun while you're living."
Notes: Cornerback Darian Hagan has been suspended for Saturday's game for missing a class. Josh Hill will get the start. ... Starting left guard Matt Summers-Gavin (shoulder) and starting nose tackle Derrick Hill (stinger) have been ruled out for Saturday. ... Sean Cattouse will make his first collegiate start at safety, replacing Marcus Ezeff.