Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Back from Suspension, MU's Logan Driven to Finish Strong

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Back from Suspension, MU's Logan Driven to Finish Strong

Article excerpt

COLUMBIA, MO. * When Missouri nose tackle A.J. Logan returned from a six-game suspension last week, he volunteered to play anywhere the staff could find a place for him. He urged Tigers coach Barry Odom to put him on special teams, even the kickoff return unit not the place you find a 330-pound human being.

"He wants to play as many snaps as he can play," Odom said, "because he knows he doesn't have much time left."

Logan, a starter in every game in 2016, was suspended for the first half of the regular season because of his role in the school's academic fraud case involving a former tutor. In his first interview since the suspension was announced Sept. 2, Logan declined to address what led to the suspension, but there was a relief in his voice mixed with an urgency to finish his college career strong.

"I've got six games to make up for," he said Tuesday.

Logan, off limits to reporters during preseason camp for undisclosed reasons, then sat out the Tigers' season-opening win over Missouri State, after which the school announced his suspension, making him the first player publicly tied to the investigation launched last November when Yolanda Kumar, a former MU athletics tutor in math and statistics, admitted she committed academic fraud with 42 student-athletes. Earlier this year, Kumar told the Post-Dispatch she finished assignments for students from all MU teams but only completed courses or took exams for members of the football and men's basketball teams. Kumar, who said she met with NCAA investigators and Mizzou compliance officials in January, has said she took exams for four athletes. The school and the NCAA have not announced any further penalties or findings related to the investigation.

It's unclear how Kumar helped Logan, but in a statement released in September, Logan said he cooperated with the university and the NCAA and took "full responsibility" for his actions. Logan is on schedule to graduate with a degree in general studies in December.

In his first game back last week, Logan started against Idaho, giving the Tigers (2-5) an experienced inside presence they've been missing all season. He's expected to stay in the starting lineup for Saturday's game at Connecticut (3-4).

"Man, it was a long journey" Logan said after his first game, which included a tackle in the backfield. "But it was fun."

"I'm so proud of that guy," Odom said. "He's done an unbelievable job handling this situation, really, quite honestly, better than I did probably."

While Logan couldn't play in games during the suspension, he was allowed to practice. Each day, he played on the defensive scout team, surrounded by freshmen and walk-ons, and worked against the offensive starters, simulating the next opponent's defense. When injuries depleted the depth along Mizzou's offensive scout team, Logan volunteered to play offensive guard for a week, so he could trade blows in practice with his fellow D-linemen. …

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