Relatives and team at the center of Jordy Lipsey’s Life
By Raj Sagar, Athletics Media Relations
Many fall Saturday mornings in Jordy Lipsey’s household began the same way. A wide-eyed 10-year-old would make his way down the stairs to find his father and two older brothers dissecting film from the previous night’s high school football game.
Not knowing exactly what his dad and brothers were talking about, the youngster was always interested and intrigued by the Xs and Os.
“I just watched as a bystander, just admiring my brothers, but I never really expected that out of myself,” Lipsey said. “All I wanted to do was be with my brothers, but through time, I started to pick up on most of the things they were doing.”
Little did his father know that his youngest son would have an illustrious high school football career leading to a scholarship at Virginia.
Football is in the family’s bloodlines. Lipsey’s father, Michael, played in high school in Metairie, La., where Jordy was born. His two older brothers, Michael Jayson and Morgan Jess, played in high school and then in college at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va.
All three Lipseys are three years apart with Jayson the oldest and Jordy the youngest. Being able to watch his older brothers play before him shaped the kind of player Jordy would become.
His passion for the game started at a young age. In second grade, he began playing Pop Warner League football. If you drove by the local field, you would see the Lipsey brothers involved in a pickup game.
“Our neighborhood games were rough,” Lipsey said. “Even though there was the age difference, we did end up playing together once in awhile. They never took it easy on me and that definitely made me tougher.”
Like his older brothers, Jordy played center at Lake Brantley High School in Longwood, Fla. When he entered high school, Jordy was relegated to the freshman team at Lake Brantley. At the time, his brother Jess was a standout on the varsity team. As a freshman, Jordy saw how hard Jess worked to get to be a starter. That sparked Jordy’s worth ethic.
“Seeing my brothers play before me was a great motivator,” Lipsey said. “I always wanted to have the same success they did.”
Late in the season, Jordy got an unforgettable opportunity.
“I moved up to varsity at the end of the season and we were beating a team pretty bad,” Lipsey said. “Jess was playing center at the time, but they moved him over to guard and let me play center. That moment really meant a lot to me.”
When Jess graduated from Lake Brantley and followed Jason to Washington and Lee, Jordy knew playing in college was the next step for him.
“I went up to some of Jess and Jason’s games and I loved the atmosphere they played in,” Lipsey said. “That’s when I realized that playing at that level was something in which I was interested to do.”
Jordy’s high school career included 143 pancake blocks, 80 of which came in his pivotal junior season.
“High school football was a blast for me,” Lipsey said. “There was nothing like Friday night lights.”
At this point, Jordy’s recruiting process began, and before he knew it, he was rated by scouting service as the top center in the country.
“After my junior season, my dad made a highlight tape that we sent out to a bunch of schools, and it just kind of blew up from there,” Lipsey said. “I talked to Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, and a few West Coast schools.”
Although both older brothers went through college recruiting, neither had the experience Jordy did.
“My process specifically was a new experience for all of us, but they influenced my decision to come to UVa,” Lipsey said. “I loved the environment that they played in and I thought that by coming here I’d be able to have an experience close to what they had. I’d be able to stay near Jess while he was in school.”
Lipsey attributes his top prospect status to his father.
“My dad has always been the most important coach in my life,” Lipsey said. “He always would encourage me to do better by pointing out what I did wrong, but in a positive way. He really knew how to make sure I corrected my mistakes.”
Although the boys in the house had an unbreakable bond, their mother, Lottie, was always there for them along with their father.
“My mom was also a coach to me, but more of a life coach,” Lipsey said. “She taught me what was right and wrong socially, and if I was ever doing something wrong, she would ensure that I changed my ways. My dad traveled a lot for his job, so she always had to look after the three of us. She was involved in almost every aspect of my life. From making meals to making sure we had our school work done to taking us to practice, my mom was always there for us.”
Once Jordy arrived at Virginia, he did not have the opportunity to play right away. Just as it is to many freshman college athletes, playing the game at the next level was a bit of a shock to him.
“When I got here it was quite an experience working out with guys like Elton Brown and Heath Miller and realizing that these guys were on a level that I wasn’t even close to,” Lipsey said. “These guys had been playing in the ACC for a long time and were men. They had put in all the time and effort and it had obviously paid off. Seeing their success definitely allowed me to set goals for myself.”
As a first-year student in 2003, Lipsey dressed for five home games but ended up red-shirting. In 2004 he had spot duty as the back-up to starting center Zac Yarbrough. The next year, Lipsey served as back-up to Brian Barthelmes and started two games against Maryland and Boston College when Barthelmes went down with an injury. Lipsey knew he could not get impatient and had to keep working hard to reach his ultimate goal as a starter.
Going into the 2006 training camp, it looked like he would finally get his chance. Although the stifling heat, early morning meetings, and two-a-day practices make most players hate summer training camp, only one thing was on Jordy’s mind opportunity.
“A lot of things came together for me that camp,” Lipsey said. “When [offensive line] Coach [Dave] Borbely came in that spring we really hit it off. I love the way he coaches, and he really motivated me to do well. His coaching style allowed me to play with my instincts and brought me back to the old days in high school where I was just able to have fun. He brought a lot of the fun back for me in football, and once the fun came back, my career took off. I enjoyed getting better and seeing some of the things I could do come back to me. After that camp, everything fell into place the way I envisioned it.”
When asked about the progress Lipsey made at that 2006 training camp, Virginia Head Coach Al Groh said, “One of the real bright pieces of news out of camp has been that probably nobody on the team has had a better training camp than Jordy Lipsey has. He has really hit his stride as far as getting his game together and looking like a college center.”
Now in the 2007 season, Lipsey finally feels like he has made himself a part of another family. Lipsey, along with Ian-Yates Cunningham, Eugene Monroe, Will Barker, and Brandon Albert, make up Virginia’s starting offensive line.
“We’re such a close-knit group,” Lipsey said. “We might not get some of the accolades some of the other players do. But we all play for each other and keep each other motivated. This is our family, and we have to stick together “