Rod Beard and Dave Goricki preview the 2018 high school football season The Detroit News
► Go through the gallery below (or go here) for a breakdown of The Detroit News' top 20 high school football players.
East Kentwood — Logan Brown was at the crossroads of his football career his sophomore year at East Kentwood High School, wondering if he loved the sport enough to continue playing in college.
Now a senior, Brown has sorted through those issues and he is now the No. 1 offensive tackle in the state and among the top five nationally at his position.
And Brown could find himself a wealthy young man if he continues to progress the next several years, like he has in the past, since he takes the field as an athletic 6-foot-7, 305-pounder.
Brown will play his college ball at Wisconsin under head coach Paul Chryst and his staff, which includes offensive coordinator/OL coach Joe Rudolph. The Badgers are 34-7 (22-4 Big Ten) in Chryst’s three years in Madison with the winning percentage surpassed only by Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma during that span.
Brown was asked if he sees East Kentwood juniors Dallas Fincher and Bryce Mostella at the same level as Brown and his senior teammate, Michigan-bound defensive tackle Mazi Smith, were a year ago.
Fincher is a 6-4, 260-pound offensive lineman with offers already from Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa. Mostella is a 6-6, 230-pound four-star defensive end with offers from Michigan, Penn State, Iowa and other Big Ten schools.
“They could be just as good as us,” said Brown. “I’m not saying I’m a messiah or anything, but I’ve worked my butt off to get where I am and they have that same drive. Really, they had that same drive earlier than I did because I remember thinking as a sophomore, ‘Do I want to play football?’ There was some personal stuff going on and it was like, ‘Do I see myself doing this when I’m in college?’
“You measure things, think about it and you figure out there’s so many great things that come out of it and I said, yes, that’s what I want to do.
“I found out that (sophomore) year that that’s what I love to do. I get to channel all that energy and anger that you have built up and get to come out here every day and take it out.”
Brown’s head coach Tony Kimbrough knows what it takes to play at a high level in college and realized early on Brown had special qualities.
Kimbrough played his high school ball under Charles Spann at Detroit Chadsey, then led Western Michigan to its first MAC title as quarterback 30 years ago.
“When he was at middle school he ran the 100-yard dash at 6-foot-4, just a pure athlete, set the middle school record in the shot put and also played baseball, so he was one of those rare athletes who I just knew would grow into something special,” Kimbrough said. “I just had to make him understand what he could be and finally he got the love for it.
“He worked his butt off and started getting stronger and he started having fun with it during his sophomore year. I think at the beginning it was more like a job, like, ‘I’m not having any fun.’ But once he started to understand how good he could be I think he started having fun with it. Then, the offers started coming and he started feeling he could be rich playing this game one day. I mean, they don’t make 6-7, athletic dudes like that. Those guys are playing left tackle in the NFL.”
Kimbrough said everything changed one day when he brought Brown in to watch film during that sophomore year, pointing things out. Brown bought in and has since developed into a dominant left tackle.
“I told Logan one day to watch Bryce (Mostella) on film,” recalled Kimbrough. “Bryce never quit. He was go, go, go all the time, and I said to Logan, ‘That could be you on the offensive line.’ He bought in.”
Brown said he found a way to develop a mean streak. Now, Brown wants to be a vocal leader his senior year to help East Kentwood make a state playoff appearance, something it didn’t do his first two years.
“My strength has always been my athleticism because I didn’t start to get my inner dog on the field until last year,” said Brown, who won the state championship in the shot put his sophomore and junior years. “It was all just on athletic ability, so I kind of had to teach myself how to be mean on the field. We have guys like that now where it didn’t come naturally.
“The biggest thing for me this year is to learn how to be a leader because normally I would just coast because I’m not a verbal leader. I’m just trying to learn that. I’ve been trying to lead my unit on the offensive line, talk things out, like, ‘How did this look, what could we do to make it better?’”
Brown said he is better at pass blocking: “The reason is my feet – I keep moving. At the moment with run blocking, I’m just working on keeping driving my feet once I make contact.”
Brown talks to his future teammates at Wisconsin every day, incoming recruits like running back Julius Davis, tackle Joe Tippmann, four-star quarterback Graham Mertz and others.
“My class, individually we’re trying to work our butts off to be the best class in the Big Ten and in the country if we can, and we know that’s a big challenge,” he said. “We’re trying to catch the wave and get on top. We want to win a national championship at Wisconsin and when we get there it’s all about that mentality.
“Wisconsin’s coaches are great. It’s not all about football from the recruiting standpoint. Even now coaches will call me and it won’t even be about football. I talk to my position coach Joe Rudolph once or twice a week – just love the guy. He looks at us as normal people, not just football players.”
Brown can’t wait to start the season. East Kentwood has a big test in the season opener, facing Muskegon Mona Shores at Grand Valley State University Aug. 25 at 4 p.m.
“Mentally I feel a lot better than a year ago,” Brown said. “Obviously, I’m a lot stronger physical too. I’m ready to go.”