Jordan Sherit
Jordan Sherit pressures LSU QB Danny Etling in Florida's win at LSU last season. (Photo: Jay Metz/UAA Communications)

Sherit all about business in football and abroad

Originally written by Scott Carter, FloridaGators.com

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – It’s a story Hillsborough High football coach Earl Garcia has told many times and one that resurfaces each time he runs into former Gators head coach Will Muschamp.

If Garcia had not called Muschamp in the summer of 2012 for clarity, Jordan Sherit might have gone to Georgia or Duke or Stanford or any number of schools impressed by Sherit’s complete package of athletic ability, personality, ambition and International Baccalaureate credentials in the classroom.

“We get some long snappers and an occasional offensive lineman and a lot of kickers, but we don’t get a heck of a lot of guys who go on to play defensive line in the SEC,’’ Garcia said of his program’s experience with IB students. “I’ve been doing this 44 years and there’s not a whole lot of Jordan Sherits out there.”

As for that story Garcia can’t help but chuckle about each time he tells it, it happened prior to Sherit’s senior season at Hillsborough, a tradition-rich program and the oldest public high school in Tampa. Sherit already had scholarship offers from more than 25 programs, including two of the big three in the Sunshine State. However, the Gators weren’t impressed.

Something seemed out of whack to Garcia, who recognized Sherit as a future star as soon as he joined current Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Nigel Harris and former Alabama triple-jumper Jeremiah Green as a dominant trio for Hillsborough’s junior-varsity team.

“We moved him up. We loved his motor and he had a great frame,” Garcia said. “He was aggressive and, heck, also a straight-A student.”

Searching for answers, Garcia called Muschamp to ask why Florida wasn’t interested in Sherit, who led Hillsborough in tackles and sacks his junior season. He wanted to make sure the Gators had updated film of Sherit.

Turns out, the game film the Gators had scouted was during Sherit’s sophomore season on offense, prior to a growth spurt and production boost as a defensive lineman in his junior season. Garcia’s phone call quickly paid dividends.

Muschamp called Garcia back 10 minutes after they hung up to inform him the Gators were offering Sherit a scholarship.

“Every time I see Muschamp he messes with me about that,’’ Garcia said.

Sherit’s stroke of good fortune carried over into his senior season when he recorded 6 ½ sacks in five games until a season-ending injury (torn ACL in his left knee) ended his prep career. The injury could have been disastrous for some kids in Sherit’s shoes, but Sherit wasn’t your typical high school player and he isn’t your typical college player, either.

*****

Sherit grew up in Tampa living with his stepdad and mom, Bill and Judy Burnett, and two stepbrothers, the youngest also a current UF student. His biological father, Tal Sherit, moved to Israel when he was young and Sherit has three sisters and a brother in Tel Aviv.

His drive to succeed was there from the start. As long as there was a perceived opponent, Sherit embraced the challenge.

“He is very competitive. He wants to excel at everything. He always has,’’ said Judy Burnett. “Like at everything. He pretty much ate everything on his plate because he wanted to show his brothers he could eat everything on his plate.”

Burnett can recall very few times when Sherit hasn’t approached a setback or challenge with an upbeat and can-do attitude. She saw it then and she sees it now as Sherit recovers from another season-ending knee injury, this one to his right knee.

Sherit suffered the injury in November during the Gators’ loss at Florida State when former teammate Caleb Brantley rolled over his knee on a play in the third quarter. Sherit missed the SEC Championship Game and Outback Bowl victory over Iowa.

He also missed an opportunity to explore his NFL options and is back as a fifth-year senior for the Gators, studying to earn his master’s degree in international business and regain his form as a relentless presence at defensive end.

“It’s amazing he’s like that because he’s had a lot of injuries,’’ Burnett said. “He looks forward to being back on the field.”

Sherit has achieved much in his time at UF beyond the 38 tackles, 5 ½ tackles for loss and 3 ½ sacks he had last season prior to his injury. Sherit earned a finance degree in December and in the spring spent time in Munich, Germany, studying in UF’s Global Immersion Experience, a required class in which students meet with foreign and domestic companies to learn about international business.

The meetings he attended during his Global Immersion Experience were a lot different than those he normally has when studying film on the Gators’ next opponent. Instead of head coach Jim McElwain or defensive line coach Chris Rumph leading the presentation, Sherit was a member of a group that made a presentation.

The audience? German automobile giant BMW.

“I worked in group and we presented a case study to BMW and gave our take on autonomous driving and the future mobility of BMW,” Sherit said. “It was a great experience. We’re dressed up in suits and ties every day.”

Sherit is believed to be the first UF player to seek a master’s degree in international business during his playing career, though former Gators kicker Frankie Velez graduated with a MIB. Sherit hopes to be done in December 2017. To earn the degree, Sherit had to participate in the Global Immersion Experience class abroad.

Sherit’s passion for business is in his DNA.

“Just naturally, I’ve always taken an interest in conducting business overseas and just seeing how things work and the influence on business,’’ he said. “My mother and stepdad instilled [academics] in me at an early age. If you don’t have grades, you can’t play football. Mom would be upset if it wasn’t all A’s on the report card and dad would be upset if there weren’t enough plays made.”

Meanwhile, Sherit’s biological father, Tal, has influenced his specific interest in international business.

Sherit’s father works in gemology in Israel and owns a business that exports precious stones to countries such as Switzerland and South Africa. Sherit visits his father and his four siblings in Israel each year.

His Israeli side of the family keeps up with Sherit’s football exploits in return, often staying up until the wee hours of the morning to watch Florida games.

Sherit’s interests away from football sometimes draw the attention of his teammates. He spends a lot of time studying and kept busy over the summer by taking extra classes toward his master’s.

“I definitely pushed myself,’’ he said. “That’s one of the reasons I am where I am.”

*****

At the start of preseason camp, Sherit’s focus was on returning to the lineup after several months of intense rehab and classwork.

Sherit was unavailable in the spring and how soon he will return remains uncertain. But as usual, Sherit is driving on the optimistic road, one on which he sought understanding about his injury as much as results during his rehab.

“I’m working total body and trying to get back to the basics and rehabbing every injury I’ve ever had … really concentrate on the little things, how the mechanics work from the bottom up,’’ he said.

Sherit said his left knee is better than it’s ever been during his college career and his right knee, the one he hurt at Florida State, is close to 100 percent. He said he can already run and cut at full-speed following surgery last fall.

“I have progressed a lot and don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be ready,’’ he said. “I think my best ball is ahead of me. This is my last opportunity to play football for the Gators, so I’m giving it everything I’ve got.”

Sherit is listed 6-foot-4, 254 pounds on Florida’s most recent roster. The 175-pound offensive lineman/tight end on that old high school film is gone forever.

In fact, it’s hard to fathom it once nearly kept Sherit from accomplishing one of his goals: playing for the Gators.

“Seeing him through this summer, he is honestly one of the biggest guys we have on our team,’’ teammate Marcell Harris said. “When you look at him, you’ll be like, ‘dang, this guy is a beast.’ He plays like a beast if you see his game film. He’s is going to be a great player for this team.”