All American star Michael Evans Behling on Jordan's big moment with Layla and making his dad proud

WARNING: This post contains spoilers from the Feb. 20 episode of All American, "Make Me Proud."

Jordan Baker (Michael Evans Behling) found a way to honor his father and save his team on All American.

Since Billy Baker's (Taye Diggs) death, Jordan has been trying to muscle through and help his family mourn without taking care of himself. This week on All American, he is focused on finishing what he believes to be his father's to-do list and also saving Golden Angeles University's (GAU) football team solo, since Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) decided to transfer in avoidance of his own grief. With support from his mother and girlfriend, Jordan figures out how to help his team without utilizing his father's death the way GAU's athletic directors intended to. In the end, the team has what it needs to rebuild and Jordan is confident that he is staying true to himself while honoring his father's legacy.

The episode, which is one of several focused on the characters' grief, highlights Jordan's growth this season. "He spent the first four seasons throwing haymakers and sucker punches at any inconvenience. In season 5, he's poised, calm, and collected," Behling tells EW. "I'm proud of the growth Jordan has had." We see it in the way he has stepped up for his family, but also the way he and Layla Keating (Greta Onieogou) have developed a very healthy and supportive relationship. The pair take a big step in "Make Me Proud" when they say "I love you" to one another.

Behling also teases that while "last few episodes have been heavier," we'll "see the comedy and goofiness come back." "I'm excited for viewers to see [that] again," he says. "I've been enjoying playing that, for sure."

We spoke to the All American star about Jordan bumping heads with Spencer, the Jordan-Layla relationship, and more.

All American -- “Lost One” -- Image Number: ALA512a_0365r2 -- Pictured (L - R): Samantha Logan as Olivia Baker, Michael Evans Behling as Jordan Baker and Monet Mazur as Laura Baker

Ser Baffo /The CW Samantha Logan, Michael Evans Behling and Monet Mazur on 'All American.'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Since Billy's death, we've seen Jordan step up to help his mom and Olivia. Going into the episode, where he is in the grieving process?

MICHAEL EVANS BEHLING: He's masking all of his emotions to be there for his mom, sister, and even Spencer. He's being as strong as he can be and putting being there for others before himself. He's definitely hurting at the beginning of this episode, and you see that in the opening scene. Then you see him dig down into his own feelings and come out the other side understanding what he has to do. It's a great episode for him and he understands who he is at the end in a deeper way.

The episode opens with a great Layla-Jordan scene, then there's the "I love you" where she gives him great advice. How important is his relationship with Layla to his growth this season?

The relationship is incredibly important, and also a very healthy relationship. He's a lot more calm now. Not that he was ever an angry individual, he was definitely a little rude at times before, especially in the earlier seasons. They balance each other. Layla is a strong, independent business woman who doesn't take any crap from anybody, and Jordan is still this young-minded kid who hasn't experienced the world in many ways. He also has this layer of goofiness [that] Layla needs sometimes. She is there for him in this moment of heavy grief and sorrow and understands it without telling him how to feel. It's important that she's a great listener.

Jordan figures out what he needs to do for GAU football. How does this moment speak to Jordan's larger journey of growth this season?

This moment where he steps up to AD Barnes (Morris Chestnut) and helps Coach Kenny get the head coach job and rallies the team, it's almost like he goes through the whole grieving process from the moment Billy dies to the end of this episode. Jordan has accepted that his father is no longer there and that he can step up into the role that needs to [in order to] hopefully fulfill what his father would want. One of the things that Jordan has always yearned for was his dad to be proud of him, and I truly believe at the end of the episode he feels his dad would be proud if he was there, even though he's still devastated.

As far as the growth for this character, it's just going to make him feel more comfortable and confident in the decisions that he's going to make in the future whether that's being with Layla, football, friends or family. His decision will be precise and the decisions will be intentional. He's still going to continue to follow in the footsteps if what he thinks Billy would do. After this episode, he's got a great moment with Olivia coming. I'm very excited for viewers to see the two of them bond over something that they've never done together.

All American -- “Feel So Good” -- Image Number: ALA508a_0171r -- Pictured (L - R): Michael Evans Behling as Jordan Baker and Greta Onieogou as Layla Keating

Bill Inoshita/The CW Michael Evans Behling and Greta Onieogou on 'All American.'

Jordan was looking for something in football when he wanted to transfer. Do you think he's found that at GAU now?

I'm pretty sure he's found it. He's locked in and he and Spencer, if he does come back to the team, are going to do their best to rebuild the program and we'll see some new characters being introduced, new football players that will really connect with Jordan and help him continue to have the love that he has for GAU.

Spencer and Jordan arguing reminded me of the early All American days. What is it like to film those really charged scenes with Daniel Ezra?

Daniel is a brilliant actor and I feel very lucky and fortunate to act across from him, and all my co-stars. I feel like he and I have a lot of charged scenes like that. We had one earlier this season when Jordan decided to leave GAU. Spencer is going through something in this episode and it's not really Spencer talking at the end of the day, but during the scene it felt like I was losing my best friend. Me, as Michael, was losing my best friend Daniel. It was definitely a sad moment. I remember it was one of the last scenes of the day and I had to check in with Daniel to see if we were good because we went there. I love getting to work on things like that with Daniel because he makes me have to elevate my game. It's painful, but it's good and I believe people will enjoy it.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

All American airs Mondays at 8pm ET on The CW.

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