Jordan Wynn has separation now. In footballspeak, a receiver tries to get separation from the defender. The defender tries to dog the receiver's every step.
Wynn didn't play receiver. He threw to receivers. He played quarterback at Utah, and, when his body allowed, he played well. Last September, in the second game of his fourth season, Wynn suffered the fourth shoulder injury of his career. And his last. Wynn took the snap, looked to pass, and a Utah State defender blew up his left shoulder.
Wynn was done. That's how he describes it. "After I got hurt and the doctors told me I was done … ," Wynn said. Three words that killed a dream, and Wynn said them as if he were talking about history. He has separation now. He is Coach Wynn.
The NFL draft began Thursday night in Manhattan, and Wynn is about as far away from it, figuratively and literally, as he can be. Wynn is a graduate assistant coach at the University of Hawaii. Warriors head coach Norm Chow coached Wynn in 2011, when Chow served as the Utes offensive coordinator. Once Wynn couldn't play any longer, Chow hired him.
That was two months later. At first, the emotion walloped him. He attended practice on the Monday after his injury and felt so overwhelmed that he left campus and went home to San Diego for two weeks.
"When the doctors told me I couldn't play anymore," Wynn said, "I took some time off and thought, 'What do I want to do?' Within days, I [couldn't] imagine life without the game of football. I've been playing it since I was 7 years old. That's how I was brought up. I can't envision life without it."
Wynn will be the first to tell you it is weird. He is 22 years old. He has a year of eligibility remaining as a medical redshirt. And he is a coaching a guy he knew in high school. Wynn attended quarterback camps with Sean Schroeder. Now Schroeder plays for him. There is separation there, too.
"I'm used to the locker room setting, and hanging out with your friends, and doing all that," Wynn said. "Now I'm sitting in here with Coach Chow and Coach [Aaron] Price [offensive coordinator], who are older than me. I wouldn't say it gets lonely. It's just a different aspect. It's all business now."
When the doctors told me I couldn't play anymore, I took some time off and thought, 'What do I want to do?' Within days, I [couldn't] imagine life without the game of football. I've been playing it since I was 7 years old. That's how I was brought up. I can't envision life without it.
--Former Utah QB Jordan Wynn
Wynn graduated with a degree in economics. He has never taken a teaching class. But he has begun to grasp the transition that comes with running the quarterback meeting instead of attending it. It's no longer enough that he understands the play. His job isn't complete until every quarterback understands it.
"'Someone doesn't do it right, and he says, 'Oh, I didn't fully understand,'" Wynn said. "And I say, 'I thought we went over it.' … It might make sense when I say that to them, but just because they understand it right then and there doesn't mean they're going to go out and execute it perfectly every time."
While his Ute teammates prepared for the NFL beauty pageant taking place this weekend, Wynn could participate only through them. He has talked to former teammates such as receivers Luke Matthews and DeVonte Christopher and guard Sam Brenner about the work they have done for the last four months. And truth be told, he felt a pang of yearning as they spoke. His brain knows that part of his life is over. His gut will get there soon enough.
"It could be a whole lot different if I was just sitting at home with this month of April going on, not really doing anything, trying to find a job in the quote-unquote real world," Wynn said. "… Right now, yeah, obviously, it's kind of tough seeing some of my buddies going through Pro Day and everything. What might have been, had I not had all those injuries. But I like what I'm doing. I love my job."
Instead of playing in the NFL, Wynn is dreaming of becoming an offensive coordinator. It's the best substitute he can find.
"There's no feeling that can compare to throwing a touchdown," Wynn said. "But at the same time, seeing a QB do everything right on a certain play, or make the right audible at the right time, is a different emotion that's very fulfilling."