The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa football’s Logan Jones stays humble amid hard work

The offensive lineman switched positions at the start of last season, but doesn’t let change influence his work ethic.
Grace Smith
Iowa center Logan Jones listens to the National Anthem during a football game between Iowa and Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 41-10.

Before he was one of the biggest players on the field, Iowa center Logan Jones was the smallest. 

Jones signed up in second grade for a tackle-football team in Council Bluffs, Iowa. While admitting he was always a bigger kid growing up, Jones said he was the tiniest guy in cleats that day. 

It only took one play for Jones to regret his decision to put on a helmet. 

“I was probably playing safety or linebacker or something, and these two dudes just absolutely lit me up,” Jones said. “I just got absolutely destroyed, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I hate this. This is ridiculous.’” 

Four years later, Jones was the one delivering the hits. The sixth grader was a striper, meaning that he exceeded the league weight limit and wasn’t allowed to touch the ball. 

There was one exception to the rule — kicking. 

Jones’ mother, Larae, told The Daily Iowan one instance where Jones booted a kickoff, then sprinted downfield and tackled the returner as soon as he caught the ball. 

Once a boy who was knocked around by others, Jones grew to be a unique physical talent who could adapt seamlessly between and within sports. Yet such talent arrived with strict dedication and a will to succeed, a devotion that the Hawkeye offensive lineman carries with him off the field. 

Curious adventuring 

One of Larae’s objectives in parenting was to not let her son play too many video games. As a result, she limited Jones’ screen time by encouraging the boy to play outside. The young Jones eventually became fond of the outdoors and spent most of his time on the swings at the park or on the concrete shooting baskets. 

Larae described her son as having an inquisitive side to him, adding that sometimes such curiosity led to a little mischief. When Jones was four years old, he pulled the fire alarm at the family’s apartment complex, causing an evacuation of the entire building. 

The firefighters who arrived on the scene gave Jones a talking-to about his actions, but their words didn’t have much effect. Just a few years later, Jones committed the same act at a hotel his family was staying at. Once again, the building had to be emptied. 

“I think he learned his lesson because he got in a little bit of trouble for that one,” Larae said. “Ever since he was little he just was always needing or wanting to do something. Always on the go, [he had] busy hands.” 

Jones’ distaste for sitting still fueled what his mom called an “unreal” work ethic. Constantly asking for extra practice reps, Jones divided his spare time between football, basketball, and track and field. Such determination and well-roundedness didn’t go unnoticed. 

Strength, speed, and effort 

Justin Kammrad has been on the coaching staff of Lewis Central High School since 2014 and has been the head varsity coach since 2019, the year of Jones’ graduation. Kammrad said how he remembers scouting a middle-school-aged Jones, but not on the football field. For the coach, what stood out about Jones was his speed, noting how the lineman was a 100-meter and 200-meter champion in junior high. 

“There weren’t many guys who were going to outrun him,” the coach said. 

Such speed served Jones well while on the Titans, especially in the pass rush. Kammrad explained how the staff could line Jones up on the edge as a defensive lineman, knowing that he could easily chase down any mobile quarterback. 

Always up for competition, Jones tested his speed countless times in races against Lewis Central’s quarterback, Max Duggan, who led TCU to the College Football Playoff last season. Weighing in at 250-260 pounds, Jones couldn’t beat the former Horned Frog but always held a close gap. 

After playing mostly at the center position during his freshman and sophomore years of high school, Jones made the switch to offensive tackle as an upperclassman to make room for other talented players. During those two years, the Titans went a combined 21-3 while advancing to the state semifinals twice. 

Even playing on the offensive line, Jones made a hefty contribution to the defensive side of the ball over his final two years, with 82 tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, and 19 sacks, and being crowned the state’s Lineman of the Year each season. 

The college offers came rolling in during the summer of 2017. First in the wave was Minnesota in July, followed by Iowa State less than two months later. Iowa came calling the following March. And by the time Nebraska got around to extending a scholarship, it was already too late.

Jones was committed to the Hawkeyes. 

Humble record-setter 

Throughout the recruiting process, Kammrad said Jones never posted his accomplishments on social media and wasn’t focused on trying to get as many offers as possible. 

“He’s a team-first person. He’s not an ‘I’ person at all” Kammrad said. “He’s not going to talk a whole lot about what he does unless you ask him about it.” 

Indeed, Jones lets his play and his work ethic speak for themselves. 

When asked to describe Jones, one of the first things many will say about him would be “he’s quiet.” Kammrad said Jones wasn’t much of a vocal person, but when the pads came on, the lineman made plenty of noise. 

Whether against in-game foes or his own teammates in practice, Jones never hesitated to provide all-out effort. When blocking, Kammrad said Jones would “put guys on roller skates,” driving defenders 10-15 yards downfield and into the ground 

“The older and stronger he got, the louder the thud was on the ground when he was taking people [down],” Kammrad said. 

Aside from getting reps in against live competition, Jones would spend just as much time on individual work. Kammrad recalled how often, after a two-and-a-half-hour practice, every player and coach would depart the field except for Jones. For an extra half-hour, Jones would hit the seven-man blocking sled, working on hand placement, drive, and his first step. 

The same sense of determination applied to the weight room, as Jones broke nearly every Lewis Central lifting record, and spent his upperclassmen years competing against himself. 

Iowa linebacker Jay Higgins said he kept tabs on all-state lineman during Jones’ recruiting process, noting that Jones was one of the quietest guys on the team. Referring to Jones as an “absolute beast,” Higgins “quickly realized he was the most hard-working dude.”

Even though Jones narrowly lost to Hawkeye right tackle Gennings Dunker in the hay bale toss over the summer, he still holds Iowa’s all-time max squat record at 700 pounds. In addition, Jones said he can bench press 425 pounds and hang-clean 470. 

Yet according to Larae, her son never told her about his squat record until one day she and Jones were walking together inside the Hansen Performance Center when she noticed his name on the record board.  

“‘Mom, it’s not that big of a deal,’” Larae remembers her son saying. “‘I broke the record.’” 

“Well, no kidding,” Larae replied. “Why didn’t you tell me?” 

“‘Well, I’m just doing what I’m supposed to.’”

Jones’ ability doesn’t stop at mere strength. The three-year letterman in basketball still remembers his first dunk, and in spite of being many pounds heavier than he was, the 6-foot-3, 290-pounder insists he can still get above the rim. 

“I’m the best hooper in the offensive line room,” Jones said, smiling. “Nobody believes it, but I definitely am.” 

Off the field, Jones may not win at every activity he does, but never shies away from competition. Whether it is playing Flappy Golf 2 with Hawkeye defensive lineman Ethan Hurkett and Joe Evans in Iowa City, or board games with his family back home, Jones’ passion and energy are plain to see. 

According to Larae, Jones will get loud and “jump out of his seat” playing the card game Kemps. No matter if it’s on the field or at the table, Jones wants his team to win. This attitude allowed the lineman to adapt, and midway through his career with the Hawkeyes, such flexibility was necessary. 

Line shift 

After redshirting his freshman season and missing most of his sophomore campaign with a knee injury, Jones, then a defensive lineman, was the subject of many rumors. It was the spring of 2022, and former standout Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum had been selected 25th overall by the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL Draft. 

The common belief around the facility was that Jones would be the heir apparent to the 2021 unanimous All-American selection despite not having played the position since high school. The lineman didn’t know what to believe, until one day he was eating lunch at the All-American room in the facility, only to have an unexpected guest in Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. 

“Coach Feretnz said, ‘Logan, can I talk to you?’ And I was like, ‘Oh it’s real,’” Jones remembers. Ferentz introduced the idea of changing positions but gave the lineman some time to think about it. 

Linderbaum also transitioned to the center spot during his collegiate career, and his success gave Jones plenty of evidence to make the switch. The current pro talked with Jones and told him he should “obviously switch positions.” 

Larae remembers Jones calling her about the possible shift. Asking her son how he felt, Jones told her he would miss playing for Iowa defensive line coach Kelvin Bell, but at the end of the day, would do “whatever was in the best interest of our team.” 

After only playing in two collegiate games, Jones’ goal wasn’t to attack the quarterback, but to rather keep him protected. Now at center, the lineman had not only Linderbaum’s position to fill, but also a complex, critical position to remaster. 

From not being allowed to touch the ball back in his youth, Jones would be the one touching the ball on every offensive down. The success of any play all started with how well he delivered the ball to the quarterback and how accurately he could read defensive fronts. A high snap or not making the correct call could kill the play before it even began. 

That first season at center was one of strict memorization for Jones. The lineman said at this year’s spring practice that he didn’t really know the purpose behind the nuances of the position, and at times was lacking in confidence. 

Snapping a ball too early, or making an incorrect call was frustrating for the then-21-year-old, but this dissatisfaction didn’t quell his desire to improve. Working with Iowa offensive line coach George Barnett, Hawkeye backup center Tyler Elsbury, and even former NFL offensive lineman James Ferentz over the offseason, Jones said has become more in tune with his fundamentals and “slowed things down” at the line of scrimmage. 

“He’s first-class in every way,” Kirk Ferentz said of Jones. “You’d never know right now, the shortness of his duration [at the center position] because he makes it look pretty easy … Every rep is going to help him because he takes it the right way.”  

Family first 

When the center isn’t dedicated to keeping quarterback Cade McNamara’s uniform clean, he’s keeping an eye out for his mom and older sister, Madysen. 

Larae said when she’s in town, Jones will offer up his house for his mom to stay at, and when she makes the three-hour drive back to Council Bluffs, her son will always call to make sure she gets home safely. 

For Larae, her son and daughter are each other’s “biggest supporters.” Jones will still call her if he needs advice, or simply when he wants to make sure that his clothes match. 

When Jones had surgery on his knee in 2021, COVID-19 restrictions only allowed one family member to be at the hospital. Madysen assumed this one person would be her. When Larae told her otherwise, her daughter was less than pleased.

“She didn’t even end up going with me, she was so mad at me,” Larae remembered. 

A few weeks following the operation, Jones was back in Iowa City, but had difficulty getting to and from his classes. In response, Madysen, who was attending the University of South Dakota at the time, drove the five hours to Iowa City, staying with her brother for the last week of school and driving him around. 

Jones remembers his mom and sister being at every one of his games, home or away. Even when he wasn’t going to see the field, they would still be supporting him from the stands.

“It’s always been us three,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my mom and sister.” 

On the wall of his bedroom at home, Jones has a taped-up sign that says “What’s your why?” For Jones, his goal of self-improvement wasn’t to show off to others, but to support the betterment of his two teams: the Hawkeyes and his family. 

As Larae always told him, “‘Don’t be flashy about things, just go to work.’”

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.