Jordan Stevens’ professional football dream will begin in Hartford.

Stevens, the former University of Maine and Mt. Blue High School standout, recently signed with the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League and will report for the start of the team’s training camp on Aug. 16.

The UFL is in its second season. It had four teams in its inaugural season, and one of those, the New York Sentinels, moved to Hartford. The league also has franchises in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Sacramento. It added a fifth team for this season in Omaha and will add a sixth next year in Norfolk, Va. Former NFL stars Daunte Culpepper and Ahman Green are the most prominent names expected to play this year. Some UFL  games are broadcast nationally on Versus.

Hartford is coached by former Cleveland Browns head coach and New England Patriots assistant coach Chris Palmer and has a roster that includes former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh McCown.

“It’s really competitive,” Stevens said. “There are a lot of guys who have been in and out of the NFL, guys who have been in the NFL for five years and a few guys just out of college. There are a lot of good athletes and I think it’s just one slight step down from the NFL.”

Stevens got a taste of the NFL last April. The Detroit Lions invited the 6-foot-2, 251-pound linebacker from Temple to participate in their rookie minicamp as an undrafted free agent. Even though the Lions didn’t sign him, Stevens thinks it won’t be his last shot at the NFL.

“I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I felt like I was able to compete there and really left feeling more motivated to get back, actually, than before I went there,” he said. “It told me I can play at that level.

Coaches from the Hartford franchise invited Stevens to a tryout in Hartford in early May. Four days after the try-out, they asked him to return for an individual workout, then signed him to a one-year contract before minicamp in June.

“At first, they were just asking me a lot of questions because I hadn’t played linebacker in two years,” said Stevens, who registered 10 sacks and 58 tackles as a defensive end last year in his senior season in Orono. “But I fit the mold more of a linebacker with my size and height.”

Stevens, who played outside linebacker his first two years at Maine, will be a middle linebacker in Hartford’s 4-3 defense. After the five-day minicamp, he feels more comfortable at the new position, but there will be a period of adjustment playing inside.

“It’s a lot different,” he said. “When I went to Maine, I at first had trouble playing outside (after playing inside at Mt. Blue and Bridgton Academy). Playing there for two years, I thought it would be a tough adjustment to play inside linebacker, and they are very different, with the rush ends you have in the 4-3 and playing in coverage. “

Stevens said he talked with some UFL veterans at minicamp to get an idea of what to expect this season.

“They said they really like playing in the league, the competition is really high,” he said. “They said a lot of guys from the UFL get shots at the NFL. It’s a great league for that.”

Stevens said he is working out at his family’s home in Temple in preparation for training camp.

“I’m just really excited to get down there and get started,” he said.


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