ORONO — Brandon McLaughlin just doesn’t see it.

McLaughlin has heard over and over again that Jordan Stevens, his roommate and co-captain at the University of Maine, doesn’t say much.

“I don’t know where all of this talk about him not talking comes from, because Jordan doesn’t shut up,” McLaughlin said. “I guess Coach Cos (Jack Cosgrove) never really heard him talk, but I hear him talk all the time.”

Going all the way back to his days starring at Mt. Blue, through his year at Bridgton Academy and his three years at Maine, Stevens has typically let his play do the talking. 

Now, as a senior co-captain and one of just four starters returning to a Black Bears defense that calls itself “The Black Hole,” he is taking a more vocal role while being called upon to help fill the void left by All-American defensive end Jovan Belcher.

“He speaks more now. He’s more comfortable as a spokesman,” Cosgrove
said. “Not that he’s a rah-rah guy, but it’s like E.F. Hutton — when he
talks, people listen.” 

“When something needs to be said, it’s going to come out,” McLaughlin
said. “Everyone respects that. Don’t tell me. Show me. That’s how he
plays.” 

Belcher showed the respect he had for Stevens after last season by handing down his No. 9 to the Temple native. Stevens didn’t expect the gesture, which is part of a tradition at Maine where graduating seniors hand their numbers down to a worthy successor.

“Jovan was always a person I looked up to here, one of my mentors,” he
said. “I saw the effort he put in here and I always tried to emulate
that, working hard in everything I did. I was honored (to get the
number).

Besides the coveted No. 9, Stevens carries another honor this
season — captain, along with McLaughlin and quarterback Mike Brusko.

“Jordan’s got all of the right qualities, and it’s not like he got them
here,” Cosgrove said. “Those came from his parents and he had them at
Bridgton Academy when we recruited him.”

Those qualities may be second nature to Stevens, but playing defensive end isn’t yet. Switched to the line last year after spending his entire football career at linebacker, he is still working to improve his pass-rushing skills and overall technique.

“It’s still something I have to work on every day because it is such a technical position. I’m getting more comfortable at it, but it’s just something I have to really focus on working on every day,” he said. 

Although he lined up on the opposite side of Belcher (now in Kansas City Chiefs training camp), the opposition weren’t inclined to pick on the 6-foot-2, 251-pound Stevens last year. He collected four sacks and 53 tackles in 13 games.

The Black Bears will be counting on Stevens to make more plays this season and lead them back to the FBS playoffs. He deflects any questions about there being more pressure on him this season, but McLaughlin, for one, knows his roommate is more intent on making plays than talking about making them.

“Jordan is aggressive and relentless,” he said. “He plays 100 percent on every play. He’s going to find a way.”

University of Maine defensive lineman Jordan Stevens.


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