By Mark Eckel, Player Engagement Insider
T.J. Logan gathered with some family and friends in his old neighborhood in Greenville, North Carolina and patiently waited. When it’s something you’ve waited for your whole life, a few more minutes, or even hours, isn’t that bad.
Logan, a running back from the University of North Carolina where he accumulated close to 5,000 total yards and scored 27 touchdowns in 49 games, finally got the call from the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round on day three of the 2017 NFL Draft. He was the 179th overall pick and the 18th of what would be 26 backs selected in the draft.
“It was the best feeling in the world,’’ Logan said of receiving the call every player who has ever played hopes to get. “I couldn’t wait to get out here. If I had to go that night, I would have packed my bags and I would have been gone. This is something I’ve waited for my whole life. From high school, college, my sophomore year I started to think I might be able to [play in the NFL].’’
Logan, whose 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash was the fastest of any back at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last winter, will get his chance in a Cardinals backfield that features David Johnson, who gained 1,239 yards for the Cardinals last season, but also carried the ball 293 times, tied for the third-most in the league.
A speed back, who is also a good receiver out of the backfield (29 catches, 244 yards, three touchdowns last season) such as Logan could be a nice complement for Johnson.
“I’ve been watching him, for sure,’’ Logan said of Johnson. “We sit and watch the film and I’m always taking notes, trying to do all I can to learn from him. I’m just trying to soak it all up and learn.’’
Learning the Cardinals offense, and getting acclimated to life in the NFL, is the first step for Logan, who should also help improve the Cardinals’ return game. The 5-10, 195-pound back averaged 32.9 yards per kickoff return for the Tar Heels last fall and scored two of his five career return touchdowns.
“I’m kind of getting the hang of it,’’ Logan said. “As far as the plays, I’m doing a lot of studying so, it’s getting a lot better for me; it’s getting easier for me. The biggest difference is not going to school, too. Here you can focus solely on your playbook, watch film, practice, go over stuff on your I-Pad.
“And for me a big difference is being away from home and my family. I was so close in college, about 45 minutes away. I could just go home whenever I needed anything and get back to class or practice. Now, I’m in a different time zone.’’
More than a few teams showed interest in Logan, and Arizona was one of them. He had met with some of their assistant coaches more than once and liked what he saw and heard from them.
“I was happy when I got that call,’’ he said.
Even though he had to wait.
“It’s kind of tough,’’ Logan said. “But I knew eventually I would get that moment that I wanted. The first day (of the Draft) I didn’t even watch. Around the fourth, and fifth round is when it got a little nerve-wracking. I started to see a lot of backs being taken, and I kept hoping I was next. I saw (ESPN’s) Mel Kiper had me as the best back left. And then I finally got the call.’’