Golden Gopher has Burgundy and Gold Dreams

Scout.com's Ed Thompson recently did a Q&A session with University of Minnesota WR Logan Payne. Logan is eligible for the draft in April and his answer to the "Favorite NFL Team" question is most intriguing.

Ed Thompson: Let's talk about what this entire experience has been like for you so far since the season ended. How's this been affecting you?

Logan Payne: You know, it's a surreal experience. You know, I knew I had a really good senior season and have the talents to play at the next level. Now that it's actually happening, it's unbelievable. It's inspired me. I have always been a blue-collar type of player. I am always staying after practice, first guy there, last guy to leave type of worker. It's just inspired me even further now that the opportunity is actually here and in front of me. I have a couple more classes that I am in right now and getting ready and training. It's been a grind, but I have enjoyed it. I have one more Pro Day and I did well on my first one, so I am just going to do a couple of things on April 5th. I will probably do some position drills and we will go from there. 

ET: Well let's talk about your first Pro Day because I know you opened some eyes with a thirty-nine inch vertical leap...

LP: I was very prepared. I have been working out at Velocity Sports. Bill has done a tremendous job to get me ready. I have done better before on a couple of things, but I excelled and did my best on a couple of areas as well. I finished at the top of receivers in a couple of events which opened some eyes. Overall, I showed that I have some athletic ability and I got some really good feedback from scouts -- and I was really excited about that.

ET: Let's talk about that feedback. What were some of the things they said they liked about you?

LP: They just didn't know how athletic I was. I don't think they thought I would do as well as I did in these drills. So they were kind of excited, saying "wow, you really impressed us today," and comments along those lines. 

ET: Why do you think they didn't have those expectations of you?

LP: I don't know, one of the things might have been that I played for the Golden Gophers.  Our trend over the last ten years is that we like running the ball, so a receiver at the University of Minnesota isn't going to get a lot of exposure. I'm not going to have the tremendous stats receivers in other offenses would since I take on a lot more of a blocking role. Usually the guys that have the great stats are the 4.3 speed-type guys and guys that have tremendous athletic ability. I think it was just a combination of coming on late in my career and maybe not getting as much exposure, which was fine with me in the system we ran. We had Laurence Maroneys, we had the Marion Barbers, we had tremendous offensive linemen all four years I was here. So that was our identity and I was happy to fall into the role that they needed me to do.

ET: Logan, tell us, outside of that great work ethic, what other strengths do you offer an NFL club?

LP: My biggest asset I think is I am very unselfish as far as what teams ask me to do. For instance, I came to the University of Minnesota and when you come in, you want to be a stud, you want to catch passes, you want to score touchdowns.  But that wasn't my role in our offense. A lot of guys would get discouraged by that. I saw it as a chance to excel in other areas like blocking. It made me have crisp routes because I didn't get that many opportunities, so every time I did, I had to make plays. I think that is one of my biggest assets is being a team player and doing whatever it is that my team needs me to do. As far as the receiver standpoint, ever since I was a little kid my dad stressed that if it touches your hand, you have to catch it. So that is the way I approach being a receiver. Having that mentality, I think I have tremendous hands. I can only remember two or three drops in my career where the drops were my fault. So I would say my ability to catch the ball would be another great strength of mine as a receiver.

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ET: With your blocking skill and your good hands, do you see yourself maybe projecting at the NFL level as somebody who might be most effective used in the slot?

LP: That's a tough question because it kind of depends on the offense and the other personnel you have, the type of quarterback, the type of running game you've got. I did really well on my quickness drills, so I could play in the slot, but I have decent speed. I pride myself in being a tall, big, physical receiver. So I could see myself on deep balls and using my leaping ability. So I can also see excelling in a lot of areas of the vertical passing game as well.

ET: Do you have a favorite route?

LP: I like going deep.I feel like even if I haven't beaten the cornerback, I still have an advantage just because of my leaping ability. And that's what I excelled at the University of Minnesota. 

ET: Did you gain much experience on special teams?

LP: I did. I did. I did not redshirt, my freshman year I came in and played on all special teams. I did punt returns, I did punt block, punt coverage, kickoff returns, hands team, I did everything. They needed me to come in and play right away and help and I was glad to do that. I enjoy flying around out there on special teams.

ET: Did you miss any time during your collegiate career due to injury?

LP: No, that's another big thing I take pride in. I take care of my body very well. I didn't miss any games. I never pulled a muscle. I have never broken a bone. I have been very blessed in that respect as far as injuries. I had some nicks but I have never missed a game because of it. I had a rolled ankle once or twice. Little nicks and bruises. But nothing that ever kept me out of the game.

ET: How about a favorite NFL team while you were growing up?

LP: I am from Tampa Bay, Florida, and back in the day the Buccaneers -- or shall I call them, the 'Yuckaneers' -- weren't necessarily a great team to root for, but I have always been a Bucs fan. My parents are from Washington, D.C., so growing up I was also a big Redskins fan. Hail to the Redskins was a song we used to sing every Sunday when we watched the Redskins play, so I'm a huge Redskins fan. I'm from Tampa Bay so I love the Buccaneers you know, they've been great the last couple of years with Tony Dungy really turning that program around and Jon Gruden winning the Super Bowl. So I have been very proud of the Buccaneers and where they've come out.

ET: How special would it be for you and your family for you to get the opportunity to play under Joe Gibbs?

LP: It would be a dream come true. He's a coaching legend and, I mean, what more is there to say? It would be an unbelievable experience. I have watched them ever since I was a little kid, ever since I could figure out what was going on on the football field. So it would be awesome.

ET: Logan, I saw that you are a Housing Studies major. Can you explain that a little bit?

LP: I'm a Housing Studies major with a concentration in Finance and Management within the housing field. My father is an architect and he owns his own company. He builds custom homes for a living. He owns his own construction company down in Florida. So that's kind of how I got into the whole housing field. What I am kind of looking to do is a little of what my dad does, a little bit on the construction side, but more of the commercial plus residential development. 

ET: What's the most important thing for fans and NFL teams to know about you as a person?

LP: I value the personal relationships that I build. They are very important to me. Over my last four years at the University of Minnesota, the one thing that I value and that I would never forget, are the personal relationships that I built with my teammates and my coaches. I am going to miss all of these guys. Even with my high school friends from Florida back in high school, I never let go of those guys. I always keep in touch with them and I like to build relationships that are going to last a lifetime. I take pride in that.

To learn more about Logan Payne, visit his Scout.com Profile Page.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the Scout.com network and syndicated through FoxSports.com's NFL team pages.


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