Logan’s run began early
Dreams were molded in a backyard tailor made for Logan Ryan.
His father, Lester Ryan, filled the family’s yard in Berlin, N.J., with all the tools needed to develop his youngest son into the athlete he is today. Resistance bands were used to make him run with power. Explosiveness was fostered through box jumps. And an agility ladder was laid on the grass to help with the youngster’s footwork, speed and quickness.
These weren’t your typical workouts for a 12-year-old, but Logan Ryan was never your typical child.
The conversation that sparked everything was innocent enough — a son simply telling his father his dream. And that dream was football. A Division 1 scholarship. The NFL.
Lester Ryan responded by telling his son precisely what he needed to do to realize that goal. He warned him it wouldn’t be easy — and it wasn’t. But from that day on, father and son mapped out a plan that helped mold an NFL cornerback.
“I said, ‘Well we’ve got to work on your speed. We’ve got to work on your quickness. We have to on your power. We have to work on your acceleration,’ ” Lester Ryan said. “And I just started buying equipment that I knew would help him with that.”
Logan Ryan ate it up.
They would work out before and after Lester Ryan’s workday. In the summer before he entered high school, Logan woke up at 7 a.m. twice a week to do sprints with the older student-athletes.
“From that point on, every day in the summer before he went to work or after he came home from work, we’d be in the back yard and we would throw the football,” Logan Ryan said of his father. “It had a true effect on me to this day because I developed this worker’s mentality that repetition, practice and hard work is what really stands out. I was never talented enough to just wake up and go in the NFL. I had to work my whole career to get here.”
Lester Ryan developed his own work ethic with a blend of football and martial arts.
At Woodrow Wilson High in Camden, N.J., he shared the same backfield as Mike Rozier, who went on to win a Heisman Trophy at Nebraska. Lester Ryan then became the first person in his family to go to college, playing football at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania.
But the elder Ryan’s other athletic passion is martial arts. He’s been training for 40 years and has a fifth-degree black belt in traditional Okinawan karate, a fourth-degree black belt in traditional Okinawan weapons and a black belt in Aikido. A sergeant in the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, he’s been training law enforcement officials in various forms of defense tactics for 20 years.
The discipline and dedication of martial arts figure heavily in Lester Ryan’s life philosophy, and so when his son practiced for football, he made sure he did things right. If Logan wanted to play catch, he hauled in 100 passes, sometimes 50 of them one-handed. Honing skills as a defensive back, the first receiver he jammed was his father. When he learned a position — and he learned all of them — Logan Ryan was taught proper mechanics.
“I wanted to be pushed. I wanted to do more. I wanted him out there,” Logan Ryan said of his father. “And he was all for it. He was all for the commitment, and that’s how he is. He raised me to be very committed, dedicated and passionate in whatever I did.”
And he never stopped working. His coach at Eastern High, Dan Spittal, took notice quickly.
“The great athletes in high school, some of them aren’t workers; they don’t have to (work). They’ll always be ahead of the curve ability wise. He was different,” Spittal said of Ryan. “He was that great athlete who had the work ethic of an average athlete who wanted to get better. Those are the ones who are special, who have talent, yet they still want to work and get better. Those are few and far between and he was one of those kids.”
Logan Ryan played quarterback and cornerback at Eastern before earning a scholarship to Rutgers. He realized his dream April 26, when the Patriots selected him in the third round (83rd overall) of the 2013 draft.
Though he attained his goal, this season hasn’t been all roses. The 22-year-old was fined $10,000 after making a lewd gesture following his first NFL touchdown, scored on an interception return vs. the Jets two weeks ago. Lester Ryan said he was disappointed by his son’s actions, as were other family members. But he didn’t hold it over his son’s head. He told him in order to get past it, he needed to be himself and work hard.
He did just that. And last week against the Dolphins, after sitting out the first half as a presumed disciplinary measure, he recorded 11⁄2 sacks.
“He’s living his dream,” Lester Ryan said of his son. “He’s doing what told me he wanted me to do, and I was just there to help him along. But Logan always knew what he wanted to do, where he wanted to go and what he had to do to get there.
“Nothing beats hard work.”
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