April 15, 2010
By Jacob Thorpe
It's been a long, winding road for UW junior Alvin Logan.
Originally from Aurora, Colo., Logan was recruited to the UW by former head coach Tyrone Willingham to play wide receiver. Somewhere along the line, he got moved over to defense to play safety.
But don't look for him in the defensive backfield. Right now, Logan is in the middle of a tightly contested battle at outside linebacker.
Two of the three linebacker spots are set in stone. Senior Mason Foster is a leader of the defense and has started games every year he's been at the UW. Meanwhile, junior Cort Dennison played remarkably well last year when E.J. Savannah was hurt, and he has already established himself as a starter next fall.
That leaves one linebacker spot open. Logan is fighting with Victor Aiyewa, also a converted safety, as well as Matt Houston, for the honor of starting in the season opener against BYU. It could be a two-man race, however, since Aiyewa has been pulled out of contact drills with a shoulder injury.
Logan is an intriguing option with his wide-receiver/defensive-back speed. In Saturday's scrimmage, he recorded two sacks and another one in Tuesday's practice, showing that, at least, can give the Huskies a pass-rusher in the Chris Stevens mold. And now, according to linebackers coach Mike Cox, when Logan hits someone, they feel it.
"He's changed his body a lot, actually, which has helped," Cox said. "Now he's a little bigger. He's about 225 to 230 pounds, when before he was 205 or something like that."
Along with his added size, Logan's coaches and teammates believe he has the attitude required to play linebacker. Linebackers can't just be smart -- they have to have a little "nasty" in them as well.
"I like playing football in general, but defense is really fun for me," Logan said. "I definitely loved being physical at wide receiver, blocking and all that, so defense was a good move for me."
Although his days at wide receiver are behind him, Logan believes his time on offense was well spent. Having played wide receiver in the past, it's easy for him to put himself in an opposing receiver's cleats and think like him.
"You can tell the tendencies from a wide receiver's stance," Logan said. "Or if he's breaking down. Having played offense helps me a lot to understand what the offense is doing."
His athleticism and knowledge of the game haven't gone unnoticed by the powers that be. Head coach Steve Sarkisian likes what Logan brings to the table.
"Obviously, he has the stature that fits the mold for us," Sarkisian said. "In our scheme, you've got to be athletic to play linebacker. You've got to be able to run, shed blocks, come over the top and rush the passer. He's got the right qualities."
Although he has the athleticism and knowledge to play linebacker, it wasn't easy at first. This will be the first year in Logan's career that he has had the same coaches, and learning a new position while learning a new scheme is very difficult. Luckily for Logan, the other linebackers have been helping him along.
"Alvin's really smart," Foster said. "Most of the time, you just have to give him little hints about when to shoot the gap, things like that. He gets the schemes really well."
Even with Foster's help, it took a while for Logan to get the swing of things.
"Linebacker's a tough position, so it took him a few weeks to get into it," Foster said. "But he's starting to get into his groove now, making a lot of plays, rushing the passer well. Alvin's a great athlete; he's one of those guys that could play anything."
Sarkisian said both Logan and Houston are very good players, but they have different strengths. While Houston is very physical, Logan is very quick. Whoever can become good at both first will go a long way toward determining who starts in the fall.