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Patriots’ Logan Ryan goes extra mile to fulfill vow, earn degree

With little to no traffic, it takes a shade over four hours to drive from the Foxboro area to New Brunswick, N.J. One, of course, needs luck on the “little to no traffic” part. Without that luck, the drive ends up closer to five hours.

But traffic aside, New Brunswick was the destination for second-year Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan to take his exams and graduate from Rutgers University. After all, when he declared for the NFL draft as a junior in 2013, he made a promise to his parents that he’d come back and earn his degree, and Logan Ryan doesn’t break promises.

So a little traffic and a few tolls (well, a lot of tolls), weren’t going to stop Ryan from driving to New Brunswick to take an exam over the first few months of the offseason, get back in his car, hit more traffic, go through more tolls and arrive home. In one day, he’d do up to 10 hours of driving.

“Trust me, I’ve (driven) that one time,” said Lester Ryan, Logan’s father, who lives in Berlin, N.J., with his wife and Logan’s mother, Miriam. “We flew most of the time back and forth, but I drove it one time about two months ago, and it’s a drive. It’s not scenic, there’s nothing scenic about it. It’s, for us, five hours. Yeah, it’s brutal. Listen, I’ve got to go up there again when we see him practice against the (Philadelphia) Eagles and we’re going to take a couple days to go up there and I’m dreading driving up there.”

Logan Ryan did have one key gadget on his side.

“Oh, yeah, E-Z Pass. E-Z Pass. Run up the E-Z Pass a little bit,” he said of the transponder that allows drivers to go through tolls without stopping to pay an attendant. “I think that was the toughest part of the drives, but it was too close to fly and I had to do it and I had to be there and it’s something that made it worth it.”

With more players than ever leaving college early for the NFL, returning to earn one’s degree is becoming more common. But taking, quite literally, the hard road to achieve it was not something that surprised Ryan’s father.

“That was his commitment and he did what he had to do,” Lester said. “When he sets his sight on something, it’s going to get done. There’s no wavering in him. There’s no, ‘Well, maybe not.’ No. Whatever he sets his sights on, it’s going to get done.”

‘It’s just integrity’

That commitment to follow through on a promise has always been a part of Ryan’s character.

When he was a four-star recruit out of Eastern High in Voorhees, N.J., Ryan made instant friendships with a group of other prospects who verbally committed to Rutgers. But in Ryan’s senior year of 2008, the Scarlet Knights limped to a 1-5 start (their lone victory over Morgan State). Some recruits withdrew their commitments, and what was potentially a top 20 or better class ended up ranked No. 38 by Rivals.com.

Still, despite having scholarship offers from some big-name programs, Ryan stuck with his commitment to Rutgers and then-coach Greg Schiano.

“Logan could have easily said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to come here because they don’t play good football. I want to go to Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame or whatever,’ ” said Lester Ryan, a 1988 Rutgers graduate who is set to retire in September after working the last 25 years in the Camden County prosecutor’s office. “But we looked at each other and I said, ‘Is this what you want to do?’ He said, ‘Absolutely.’ He said, ‘I gave my word to Coach Schiano and I’m going to fulfill my commitment.’ ”

Said Logan Ryan: “It’s just integrity. It’s just how I’m built. When I commit myself to something, I’m going to commit myself to it. I think it just comes down to respect and being honest and having a lot of integrity. And that’s how I am. I’m a very committed person. I’m very dedicated, and once I dedicate myself to verbally committing to Rutgers (University), no matter what happened, I’m going to go there.”

The final steps taken

With less than 15 credits to graduate from Rutgers, Ryan started taking online classes to complete his degree, a major in labor studies and minor in psychology, just after the Patriots’ loss in January’s AFC Championship Game. But he had to be in New Brunswick for the handful of exams, and it took careful planning with academic adviser Jenna Beverly to make it happen.

“We needed to consider his time commitments to course work and in New England,” Beverly said. “We utilized courses based on this schedule and planned it with good balance.”

He took the road trip “at least five times and back” to graduate in May with a 3.4 grade point average. Since he had to return for organized team activities the next day, he could only attend a modest ceremony with other football players who had completed their course work. There were caps and gowns, some photo ops and a buffet. Then there was that road trip. Again.

Ryan already has plans for what to do with that degree.

“I just want to help the South Jersey, the New Jersey community,” he said. “I want to help the youth — whether that be football instruction, coaching, maybe a facility that can train kids — just stressing the importance of being responsible, being committed academically and athletically and raising their game at a younger level and helping them get exposure. I was fortunate to get exposed in the area. So I just want to help the community in South Jersey.”

With Ryan’s sights set on that already, consider it done, even if he does have to break out the E-Z Pass for an extra long commute or two.



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