Current Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2014 07:40:07 -0400
T.J. Logan didn’t want to be redshirted. His coaches never discussed it with him, and he never brought it up.
It was a point of pride.
Fellow North Carolina freshmen Brian Walker, Desmond Lawrence and Bug Howard — some of Logan’s closest friends — have avoided redshirts.
“I felt like I had to be strong enough to be with them,” Logan said. “You know what I mean?”
After suffering a left MCL strain early on in training camp and not making the trip to South Carolina, Logan spent the next few weeks preparing as if he would play. And on Saturday, in a 27-17 loss at Virginia Tech, the running back earned his first collegiate touches — returning a kick, making an 8-yard reception and rushing for 25 yards across five carries.
He said he was glad to return to the field — his enthusiasm after Saturday’s loss made that clear.
But it was also clear he wasn’t enamored with his performance. And again, that came down to pride.
“I really wanted to score a touchdown,” Logan said, cracking a smile after Tuesday’s practice.
That’s understandable, considering the last time Logan touched a football in a game he scored eight of them.
Just a year ago, he was the starting running back for Northern Guilford High School, and he singlehandedly led the Nighthawks to the 3-AA state championship with a record 510 yards on the ground — 10 more yards than the entire UNC football team through five games this season.
Logan was named the Associated Press’ North Carolina player of the year for 2012 and was a top recruit in the state. At 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, Logan provides shifty speed and athleticism, and he has already impressed running backs coach Randy Jordan with his instincts on the field.
“Most guys that are great runners, they have a feel for when to cut back, when to plant and get the ball outside — you really don’t do a whole lot of coaching,” Jordan said. “I tell him, ‘When we get you to the line of scrimmage, the rest is up to you.’ Some guys have it and some guys don’t, but T.J. definitely has it.”
He doesn’t have all of it quite yet though.
Logan said coaches have worked with him on blocking — an area where he still needs quite a bit of work.
“In high school, I ain’t gonna lie, I didn’t really block nobody,” Logan said, laughing.
Logan also isn’t guaranteed to get touches, as he’ll be sharing tailback duties with redshirt senior A.J. Blue, sophomore Romar Morris and fellow true freshman Khris Francis. Offensive Coordinator Blake Anderson said UNC might continue with a running back by committee for the rest of the season, but ideally, UNC would like to settle on a 1-2 punch.
Come Oct. 17 against Miami, Logan could very well get reps again in his first game at Kenan Stadium. He once played there, and dominated, during his high school career.
He couldn’t remember specifically what his numbers were in that game.
“I just remember the end zone.”