Republished from the Columbia Missourian
COLUMBIA — A.J. Logan may be 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 315 pounds, but his most noticeable physical characteristic is certainly his smile.
Maybe it’s because 315 doesn’t sound so big when you play alongside 430-pound teammate T.J. Smith. Or maybe it’s because his gap-toothed grin seems to have “defensive lineman” written all over it. Whatever the reason, Logan has plenty of reasons to flash those whites these days.
The Rock Bridge defensive tackle orally committed to the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon.
When Missouri coach Gary Pinkel took Logan aside before the Tigers’ season opener against Southeastern Louisiana, it didn’t take long for him to answer in the affirmative.
“One second,” Logan estimated. “It was immediate.”
Logan has been just as immediate with his contributions on the field for the Bruins in his senior year. In two games, the all-state lineman has tallied 21 tackles and 2.5 sacks — right on pace.
“Personally, I set a goal to average about 10 tackles a game or more and get anywhere from 10 to 15 sacks on the season,” he said.
The team is also off to a hot start. Coach A.J. Ofodile said Logan is a crucial part to a defensive squad that has only given up two touchdowns in the Bruins’ 2-0 season.
“He’s probably the heart and soul of our defense,” he said. “He’s a positive leader. He encourages guys. He responds to challenges, which is great modeling for our younger guys. You can challenge him on things, and he responds to that, which has kind of become an old-school trait, but he embodies that.”
Coming off an all-state performance his junior year, Logan’s success this season has been somewhat expected. That wasn’t the case a year ago. Logan struggled during his sophomore season, both behind the desk and on the turf.
“He just wasn’t taking care of business in the classroom like he could,” Ofodile said. “(And he) wasn’t as consistent showing up to workouts as he needed to be. We sat him down and addressed it, because I just felt like, you know, it’s sad to see a kid fall short just based on not giving the right kind of effort and having the right kind of focus. He responded like he often does. The rest is history.”
That history has long been a dream for Logan, who was born and raised in Columbia.
“I definitely wanted to play Division I collegiate football,” Logan said. “It’s special.”
Despite receiving offers from the University of Memphis and Northern Illinois, Logan said he had not made any real considerations regarding college and was planning to decide after the season ended. That is, unless a certain school offered and made his decision easier.
Along with that offer came a comforting feeling.
“Just plain relief,” Logan said. “I was ecstatic when I got the offer.”
Ofodile said it’s special to see his star lineman commit to his first choice.
“Any time a kid is in a position where they have a chance to get their education paid for, it’s a big deal,” he said. “But you can multiply that exponentially when it’s the hometown school, a place where the kid’s always dreamed of going.”
Smith, also a senior, echoed that sentiment.
“That’s the school that he wants to go to, so I’m happy for him. He’s like my brother, so to see him going on to bigger things, it’s real nice,” he said with a grin.
Smiles must run in the family.