That Wednesday In February

There are defining marks for any athlete. Most can be listed as being called for a draft. It can also be stepping on the field, court, or area for the first time as a pro. For some it is winning a ring,a World Series trophy,an Olympic Medal, or even the title of World Cup champions. But To achieve that goal as a teenager, it usually means the first big, significant part of your career has to take place,and that is with signing day.

National Signing day is the by far the most exciting time to a high school athlete. It is the start of their college career, and for some, the first step they take into making it pro. It is the payoff from all of the hard work, dedication, and long hours you’ve put in over the years.For some It’s the school of their dreams. For others it’s the school that felt right on all the levels. No matter which it is, you’re about to sign your name in front of your family, friends, coaches, and peers and feel like you did it. You finally made it.

I decided I wanted to do a story about an athlete, one with preferably many offers and to tell about the journey that brought them to this significant time.Luckily for me,I didn’t have to travel far. Nestled in to our little town of Saint Augustine, Florida was a highly talked about football star, Kenny Logan. Kenny a senior at Pedro Menendez High School was captain of the Varsity football team with offers coming in as quickly as his stats went up.If you look him up, you’ll find his primary position is noted as defensive back, which there is no denying that is what he excels at. But when you hear the year that Pedro had, and the position he played for his senior year, it makes his stats that much more impressive.

We meet at the football fields of Pedro. I catch Kenny on the bleachers looking at the field he once shed his blood, sweat, and tears on. I wonder what he is thinking, but decide instead of asking him, that it might make for the most opportune occasion to snap a picture. A moment that to me, you can see Kenny is saying goodbye to.

It’s one week before singing day, and Kenny still doesn’t 100 percent know where he is going to commit to. In a world where football players are committing early in December these days,he is a player still looking at offers and going on visits. In fact, he has three on the books that he leaves for tomorrow. The offers started his sophomore year and were ranging from FSU, Ole Miss, Alabama, and many, many more. I decide to dive right in. Okay Kenny I ask, what are the top three choices. With a mega watt smile on his face, he tells me “It’s down to Kansas, USF, and FAU”.

Let’s talk about the road getting here Kenny, I say to him. You’ve had a great run at Pedro. Tell me what it was like to come and play at this school instead of some of the other options you could have had. “It was really important for me to come and play here. Dede and some of the other guys , they were my brothers. The connection with them and the coaches was a huge reason I wanted to play at Pedro”, Kenny tells me.I respond to him and ask if connection is the most important thing, and Kenny says, “Oh it’s very important. That’s the biggest thing when you’re trying to go somewhere with a football team and be great!’

We sit and talk for a bit about Pedro and what it will be like to leave it all behind. “Are you nervous? Nervous to leave this field and step on to the college field?” He is quick to reply, “It’s exciting! I mean yeah, I am nervous cause I am the little guy, I’m the small guy on the chopping block now, but it’s so exciting and I am ready to prove myself”.

When I ask Kenny what is the best memory he has of playing football here, he answers with every bit of the high he felt from that night, “Beating St. AUG!” I follow it up with asking him if he knew they would win? “ It was something we worked for, but yeah, going in to that week, I knew we were going to beat them. And it was crazy when we won. Fans rushing the field, and it was just surreal”.

I should mention in this article that there is a huge in town rival in Saint Augustine. It’s between Pedro Menendez and Saint Augustine high school. Every year since the two started playing, which has been 18 years, it was Saint Augustine who always prevailed. But something was different this season, and it was partly due to the dynamic force of Kenny Logan, and Tye Edwards. It was a highly anticipated, and in the end Pedro prevailed and won 62-28 and it would seal the fate that this would be embedded into Kenny’s heart forever.I was able to speak to Saint Augustine’s head coach, Brian Braddock recently. I asked him what he thought of Logan as a player, and Coach Braddock told me that, “Kenny is a great all around player. Throughout his career he has been a playmaker in all three phases of the game. He is also a very intelligent player, and I expect him to excel in college”.

I mentioned Kenny’s position earlier, but also I said his senior year took a crazy turn. In to the season the starting QB went out, next the 2 nd string was out, and right after that, the 3 rd string was out as well. Who would fill that role was something head coach,Kyle Skipper and his coaching staff had to determine.

Coach Skipper knew there was one player capable of making that happen, and he turned to Kenny. I was able to talk to his coaches about this move and Coach Skipper said, “Kenny is just a savy football player. That’s the reason a lot of guys want to play safety. He understands what people are doing coverage wise, and he was able to run our offense. He was outstanding for us at a time when we lost three quarterbacks. For defensive coordinator, Bryan Yancy, it was a little tougher to swallow losing a crucial part of his tactical players in the defense. Coach Yancy explains, “from my standpoint, it didn’t feel great. But at the same time he is a very capable kid and he’s going to give you 100 mph on both sides of the ball. Plenty of times, he would be dog tired and didn’t like what was going on, but he would say, ‘alright coach, I’m ready’ and it’s comforting to know you’ve got a kid who will do everything you need him to do.

To get a player to signing day it entails a heavy recruiting process.I sit with all three to ask them to walk me through the process of what that looks like.

Coach Yancy: “I mean It’s great having scouts come in and it helps represent Pedro and the brand we are trying to build. The impact that Kenny and Tye have had will go far beyond because of what they’ve been able to do, and the people they have brought in”.

Kenny: “Mentally for me it is to seek it yourself and make it happen. In the beginning, I was kind of blind to it though. So I left it to the coaches, and they helped me in huge ways and Skipper, Turner, Yancy, they all are reasons I am about to sign”.

Coach Yancy: “Our coaching staff does a pretty phenomenal job with this. Between support from Turner, and all of us they have developed a lot of contacts. Reaching out to guys and getting them over here, driving over the summer to visits I mean we try to do everything we can”.

Coach Skipper follows that up with saying,“I’m as involved as Kenny, or any player wants me to be. I’ll talk to coaches everyday, but Kenny is his own kid. He has done a really good job at managing his own visits. It’s going to come down to where Kenny Logan wants to go”

Kenny and I walk back over to the fields.I want to grab a photo of him in front of the word“Falcons” proudly displayed where the beloved fans came every Friday night. As we walk, the coaches head back to warming up the QB’s for next seasons team. I see Kenny watching them, no doubt realizing how much he will miss this school.

“Who do you credit to all of this Kenny?”, I ask him. Without a pause, he replies , “The coaches! They put in the work for me and got me to this point, but also my brother, Brandon”. Kenny’s proud older brother, Brandon James went on to play for University of Florida, and eventually made it to the NFL with the Colts. He goes on to say that,“Brandon is my role model on and off the field”. I have to know the answer to what I am about ask so I ask it.“Any other role models on the field” and I feel like I know who he is about to say. It’s who I have always thought Kenny reminded me of when I have watched him play, and then with a purely poetic sound , he replies, “Jalen Ramsey”, and I thought, “yes,yes It all makes sense now”

We take the photo and we laugh and talk about a few things. If you know Kenny, you know his charisma makes him easy to talk to, and easy to route for. I ask Kenny where he sees himself when he steps on to the field, ya know the field that were all trying to figure out. And his answer is the answer of most future college athletes. “To be great, to be a true freshmen, and an All American”. And in 4 years? I fire back to him.And with a typical short and sweet quote from Kenny, he says“In the NFL”. Coach Yancy, later tells me, “In four years I see Kenny getting ready to go in the draft. I truly believe that. As long as he keeps grinding”. But the best answer for me, being a parent myself of a D1 athlete,hails from coach Skipper. He says with the perfect answer,“Kenny Logan in four years. I see him as a college grad. And if he is, then I have done my job”. And that folks, that right there will forever be the kind of coach every kid needs to make it to the next level.

It’s now the Tuesday night before singing day, and I promised Knny I would wait until then to ask his decision. I talk to Kenny by phone, and ask him how he is feeling with tomorrow being the big day. His tone is different. There is a general calmness to it, and Kenny explains, “I’m excited, and I am nervous, but really, it’s just a relief. The process is over and I am actually signing my name to play college football”.“Is there anyone you would like to thank in this article” I ask him. And with the sweet sound of a kid, who after all is said and done is just a momma’s boy at heart, Kenny replies, “yes ma’am, my mom. I want to thank her for being there for me all my life. For being a single mom, and raising me, and molding man to the man I am today”.

And with that, he’s off to get some rest and enjoy tomorrow.It is sure to the first greatest day he will have in his college career as a player in the Big 12 conference. It will go down in his memory, as well as all of ours as the Wednesday in February, when Kenny Logan signs on the line to play college football at University of Kansas.

Marshall Matters

Marshall Matters

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