Only an airplane can outrun T.J. Logan.
The North Carolina grad spoke to me from the Dallas airport, where his flight was delayed for another two hours, and was keeping the fastest RB at the NFL combine from getting back. “I’m trying to get home, man,” he said through a laugh.
It had been quite a weekend for the playmaker. His 4.37 40 yard sprint topped all running backs in Indianapolis, and the margin was not that close, relatively. “It was an amazing experience. I got a lot of love on Twitter, a lot of love from players, a couple of coaches handing me their cards on the way out.”
Wow. Wow. Wow.
— NFL (@NFL) March 3, 2017
Yet, Logan still feels that people don’t really know important things about his approach to the game. “I love to block. I like contact. I like picking up that linebacker, be it in the A gap or outside. I pride myself on being physical.”
A surprising and refreshing revelation from the 5’10”, 190 lb. speedster. He has made a living in Carolina Blue by blowing up big plays, truly shocking onlookers and defenders alike. There was the 95 yard kickoff return TD vs Georgia in 2016. There was the 46-yard TD pass reception vs. Clemson in the ACC Championship game in 2015. There was the 42-yard TD run on his first carry vs. N.C. State that year, or the 22 yard TD run at Florida State this past season. Any way you parse it, Logan is known for big flash plays to go along with his steadiness.
This is why the NFL Combine 40-time was not a surprise to many. Logan is the underdog that gets his day regularly. “I definitely play like an underdog out there,” he told Cover32/Ravens. “People might underestimate my love for hitting. But I try to just contribute the best that I can for my teammates. I have fun, and that’s when you’re at your best.”
Logan has a healthy respect for the Ravens organization. “You know that when you come to Baltimore, they’re going to be playing defense,” he told me. “I remember Jamal Lewis. I used to watch him a lot. I liked his style, the way he got it done.”
And how did he get it done at the Combine? “I had confidence in my training at MJP (Michael Johnson Performance training, Dallas), so I felt good. I just got in my stance, said a prayer, looked down the track, and went for it.”
What kind of prayer does a player say in that moment? “I just thanked Him (God), really,”
Logan confessed. “I had done my training, but He has given me the ability and the opportunity to be here, so I just thanked Him for that, and then it was time to have fun.”
During his career at UNC, Logan was very much a part of a two-back system, so has that mentality built in. “Most teams have a two-back attack, so I’m ready for that. I would love to perform my best when in there, and root for my teammates when they are in there.” Logan said that his dream split would be running plays for 75% of his touches, and catching the ball for the other 25%. He clearly is happy to contribute in any way. “I play with an edge, a chip; I want to prove myself out there and come through for my team.”
Logan is aware of the Ravens’ special team return drought from last season, too. The Ravens did not have a return TD for the first time since 2008. His special knack for kickoff returns is due to a simple formula, he said. “We have a term for it: the cheese. I try to get the defenders to go for the cheese of direction, heading one way, giving them a look to one way, and then totally switching it up on them.” The formula has worked multiple times in Logan’s career, and he has the speed to make the defense pay.
Perhaps this is why he was so adept at splash plays–he was the less ballyhooed in a two-pronged attack, for no reason in particular, and his immediate acceleration proved too lethal for many a defense.
What kind of teammate and family support did he experience after the big run? “You know my mother was right up in there afterward, she sent me a video and everything,” he laughed. “My father and I pretty much talked the entire weekend at different points.”
“My teammates, we supported each other well. We kind of had a little suite together, and shared advice. Mitchell (Trubisky, QB), Mack (Hollins, WR), Bug (Howard, WR) and Switz (Ryan Switzer, WR) and I shared intel. I went first, so I was able to come back and give them tips about how it was out there. I told the receivers to watch out for the lights in the dome, they could blind a catch.”
It was that kind of selfless attitude and team mentality that made his first place standing poetic.
It’s part of what makes T.J. Logan a definite target for any team that wants to blow up big plays, especially the one in Charm City.