‘Little Big Dude’
Ambitious Sophomore Has The Hot Hand For Blue Streaks
Posted: October 3, 2012
Jordan Dove (16) has been a spark for Haqrrisonburg. (Photo by Stephen Mitchell / DN-R)
In just two weeks, the Harrisonburg High School sophomore has emerged as a potent weapon in coach Chris Thurman’s spread offense as a scat-back.
“I’m just trying to step my game up,” said Dove, a curly-haired 5-foot-7, 135-pound running back. “Just trying to be the little big dude.”
Establishing himself as Harrisonburg’s hot hand in the backfield, Dove rushed for more than 100 yards in the second half of Friday’s 28-9 loss to R.E. Lee and was one of the only positives for an otherwise anemic Blue Streaks offense in Staunton, gashing the Leemen on sweeps to the outside. The week before, Dove churned out over 100 yards of total offense – not to mention a 29-yard touchdown catch – to help HHS hold off Turner Ashby in a tightly contested 24-20 road win.
“We’re not going to take a kid out that’s getting it done,” said Thurman, who wished in hindsight that he utilized Dove more and sooner against Lee. “He’s taken advantage of his opportunities. … There are times when Keenan [Jordan] just needs a break. That’s kinda how this started. Jordan was the answer to give him some rest, and Jordan kept getting better and better.”
It’s certainly surprising production from a sophomore who started the season playing behind Jordan – a TA senior transfer and star defensive back – on the depth chart at running back. But for those who know Dove, it was hardly a revelation.
Even before his first breakout game at TA, the Knights were chatting about the multi-sport athlete during practice and film sessions.
“The kids know him. Some guys on our team may be friends with him,” TA coach Charlie Newman said. “They told me, ‘He’s a pretty good running back, Coach.’ So, we were aware. It didn’t take long to see him with the ball. He has some pretty good skills and, despite his small size, he’s a real tough runner.”
People who come across Dove would be wise to not challenge him to a pick-up game, a paper football contest or anything else that requires even a smidgen of skill.
“That kid – he’s good at about everything he does,” Thurman said. “… He’s just very athletic. The baseball coach loves him.”
Though Dove didn’t play baseball last year to focus on academics, the left-handed center fielder does plan on playing varsity ball this spring under second-year HHS coach Mark Mace. But Dove’s athletic résumé doesn’t stop there. Last winter, Dove – who used to play point guard in AAU basketball – placed third in a snowboarding trick competition at Massanutten and was able to wrestle his way into the Region III tournament as a freshman.
“He plays so many other sports, it’s going to be difficult to get him in the weight room,” Thurman said. “… But what you see now is natural and it’s pretty darn good.”
Including his thumbs.
During his middle school years, Dove was a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare guru on Xbox, winning $100 once while playing in a ranked tournament. He’s also won Microsoft points and accessories, such as controllers. Dove said he even was sponsored by the likes of Major League Gaming.
How does one get sponsored playing video games?
“People that record [online matches] put it up on YouTube and [you] get known,” Dove said. “Sponsors hit you up. Sponsors want you to play for their team.”
But those days are pretty much behind him.
“I gave that up,” Dove said, in part due to his never-ending sports schedule.
In what little spare time he does find, Dove loves working on cars. Whether it’s engine work or aesthetics, the 16-year-old – who celebrates an Independence Day birthday – finds different ways to modify his white Acura Integra.
“I’ve lowered it, put some new wheels on, just shaved some of the pistons and taken some things out of it,” Dove said. “It just lightens up the car and makes it a little bit faster.”
Of course, Dove employs a nice set of wheels himself that he hopes will one day earn him football playing time in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson, he said, would be his dream destination. And Dove can dream big because he’s witnessed a similar path with HHS graduate Michael Holmes – now a sophomore running back being featured at Virginia Tech.
“Him being in front of me motivates me,” Dove said of Holmes, a two-time Group AA Player of the Year. “… I’m gonna get there one day.”
Dove — the son of Dave and Amy Dove — grew up around Holmes and his younger brother Weylin, a current senior teammate. Their mother, Tonya Holmes, babysat Dove at times, allowing for him to play backyard ball with the talented brothers. Dove has even made his intentions clear of chasing down some of Michael Holmes’ rushing records – even though he’s got a long way to go to catch the 6,000-plus-yard former HHS star.
“He told me, ‘You just got to put in a lot of work,’” Dove said.
And with Dove seemingly having the Midas touch with athletics and anything else he puts his mind to, who’s to say he won’t earn his stripes one day at the highest level of college football?