Gophers’ longsnapper shows his faith through service and family life

Payton Jordahl is majoring in youth studies and will graduate in December.

Long snapper Payton Jordahl runs onto the field before a game against Middle Tennessee at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 16.

Courtney Deutz

Long snapper Payton Jordahl runs onto the field before a game against Middle Tennessee at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 16.

Drew Cove

Spirituality is a big part of head coach P.J. Fleck’s culture, and longsnapper Payton Jordahl embodies that.

Being the team’s longsnapper, Jordahl won’t have the flashiest plays when the Gophers visit Michigan this weekend, but the redshirt junior values both faith and football. Jordahl has been successful on all 341 snaps on the field, and the junior has found ways to give back to his community off the field.

“Faith has always been a large part of my life,” Jordahl said. “My main thing for that is doing the right thing and helping others.”

His idea of helping others came full circle this season with a good deed he did for his spirituality class recently.

One day, Jordahl walked around Dinkytown. He ended up sitting with a homeless man, talking with him and his friend, and inviting them to lunch.  Fleck said that better people make better players, and he cited Jordahl as a direct example of that mentality.

“Payton Jordahl … doesn’t get enough credit,” Fleck said. “It’s a great lesson of not judging somebody.”

Jordahl makes a point of extending his faith beyond the football field, and much of that is centered around his family life. 

His parents divorced during his freshman year of college, challenging his concepts of relationships as well as his faith.

“It tore down what I thought of everything,” Jordahl said. “When you go through tragedies and [crises], especially with family members and close friends, you grow so tight to people.”

The redshirt junior said that although no one wants a tragedy in their family, it opens a big opportunity to grow.

Through his parents’ divorce, Jordahl understood the importance of listening, and that allowing someone to talk to him was more important than saying something.

On top of faith and family, Jordahl brings his mindset of doing the right thing to his college degree. The longsnapper is majoring in youth studies, and he said that he wants to work on after-school or summer programs one day. He’s also thought about mixing the programs with sports. He is set to graduate in December.

“I just applied for the youth development leadership master’s program,” Jordahl said. “That’s basically a continuation of the youth studies major. After I graduate I hope to run some youth programs.… I also think I could do a lot of good work in corrections facilities.”

Faith and spirituality on the collegiate football field are nothing new to the Gophers, especially with punter Ryan Santoso.

Santoso was nominated for the 2017 Wuerffel Trophy, an award for community service. When asked to talk about Jordahl, he lit up with a grin.

“He is one of the best guys I know,” Santoso said. “That guy cares so much about people, he loves to make people smile, and that’s one of the greatest things this world could ever have.”

Once a walk-on, Jordahl worked his way into every game his first season after his redshirt year, and he eventually earned a scholarship in the summer of 2016 from then-coach Tracy Claeys.

The longsnapper often doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other positions on the football team, but he has seen consistency since he arrived in the Twin Cities.

“I remind myself of [the scholarship] every day,” Jordahl said. “It drives me. I try to keep the mentality that I am a walk-on. Every day … I try to tell myself that I am earning a scholarship today.”