Before his glory days as a sophomore at New Mexico Military Institute, Jordan Ta’amu had always been overlooked at the quarterback position.
Now he’s getting a chance to shine at the highest level.
On Monday, Ta’amu signed a one-year deal with the recently crowned Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Joining a club with the likes of Pro Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, Ta’amu becomes the 11th Bronco player to land in the NFL. The most recent was Kurt Taufa’asau in 2013, who spent time with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts.
Ta’amu had previously been playing for the St. Louis BattleHawks of the XFL. In the short-lived season, he threw for 1,050 yards with five touchdowns while rushing for 217 yards.
Through five games he ranked third in passing yards in the XFL.
“I’d been hearing rumors about the Chiefs, been hearing rumors about other teams, and when I finally got the call from my agent, he told me this would be a good opportunity for us,” said Ta’amu.
Ta’amu got a taste of the NFL in August of 2019 when he was signed by the Houston Texans, but that dream ended when he was released at the end of the month.
Now he’ll get an opportunity to learn from two-time Super Bowl champion coach Andy Reid and quarterback sensation Patrick Mahomes.
“To be able to sit there with Mahomes and learn and practice with this type of scheme with this offense, with coach Reid … everything about it was just good news to hear,” Ta’amu added.
Not having a single NCAA offer out of high school, Pearl City, Hawaii native got a call from Bronco head football coach Joe Forchtner.
Ta’amu had a breakout 2016 season as a sophomore accumulating 3,014 passing yards and 32 touchdowns along with 328 yards on the ground with two scores.
“Coach Forchtner believed in me,” Ta’amu said. “Freshman year didn’t go as planned but I got the experience and learned. As soon as I got my chance sophomore year, I took advantage of it and performed at a high level.
“It kind of just all started from the first game my sophomore year when I threw eight touchdown passes.”
The impressive stats earned him Southwest Junior College Football Conference Player of the Year honors in addition to All-Region and All-SWJCFC.
He ranked third in the NJCAA in passing yards per game (334.9) and second in touchdowns.
After his time in Roswell, Ta’amu had received offers from five schools which included Ole Miss and Minnesota.
Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to play in the SEC, Ta’amu committed and headed to Oxford to play at the Division I level.
Ta’amu got his chance to play under center when first-string quarterback Shea Patterson suffered an injury during a game against LSU on Oct. 21, 2017.
From that point on, Ta’amu had earned the starting role as he completed 20 of 30 passes for 368 yards while rushing for 76 yards with two touchdowns in his first career start against Arkansas.
His 444 yards of total offense in the 38-37 loss to Arkansas ranked fifth highest in school history.
The accolades didn’t stop coming.
Ta’amu was tabbed SEC Offensive Player of the Week after tallying 382 passing yards in a 37-34 win over Kentucky. Of his four touchdown passes thrown in the victory, the final score proved to be the game-winner with five seconds to go in the game.
When it was all said and done, Ta’amu broke the school record for 400-yard passing games after doing it four times. He also ranks sixth all-time in career passing yards with 5,600 and his 30 touchdowns through the air place ninth in school history.
In Ta’amu’s first start with NMMI as a sophomore, the Broncos thrashed Air Force Prep, 62-27. Ta’amu threw for eight touchdowns while going 22 for 29 with 423 passing yards, which earned him NJCAA Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The following week, Ta’amu had seven total touchdowns in a 52-45 shootout victory over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
NMMI finished the year 5-4 after beginning the season 4-0.
“We knew he was super talented and had an awesome head on his shoulders but the things he did in that season were unbelievable,” Forchtner said about Ta’amu. “He’s not scared of any competition.
“He’s got it mentally. He’s not scared of any challenges. Physically, he proved what he could do here, and in the SEC. He’s done it on every level so far except the NFL. Why should that not be next?”
NMMI played an important role in helping mold Ta’amu into a strong leader. The institute will always be branded in him.
“It was huge for me to be able to be there,” Ta’amu said. “Rooms had to be cleaned, the uniform had to be top-notch, you had to wake up early. I felt like all that kind of played in the role, too.
“NMMI helped me a lot, building me as a better person, a better man, and a better football player. NMMI was a good spot for me to start off. The journey’s not done yet.”
Forchtner added: “I was pumped. It’s awesome. He’s a good person and anyone who’s around that guy just falls in love with him. Everything about that guy is genuine. It’s a family relationship that just kind of keeps ongoing. He’s like a son that goes on and does big things.”