For Patriots CB Logan Ryan, The Journey to the NFL Began When He Was Just 8 Years Old

Ian Logue
April 30, 2013 at 06:00am ET

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Considering the work ethic Logan Ryan has had since he was just a child, it's no surprise that the Patriots decided to draft him in the third round of this year's NFL Draft. (PHOTO: USA TODAY Images)

FOXBORO, MA -- Bill Belichick is known for being drawn to hard working, high character guys and it seems like defensive back Logan Ryan is someone who fits the mold of what the Patriots' future Hall of Fame head coach generally looks for.

The third round pick out of Rutgers is a player who from the time he was young has had an incredible amount of drive and determination. That's even been further reinforced along the way by his father, who has been extremely supportive throughout the newly acquired cornerback's development.

According to the New Jersey Star Ledger it started when Ryan was just 8 years old. At the time Ryan told his father he wanted to play in the NFL and his father told him he needed to work harder in order to achieve those dreams.  As a result, Ryan scribbled "D-1" onto an index card and taped it to his bed so that when he woke up each morning he'd see it.

From there it was the blood, sweat and tears of both he and his father working together while using various equipment including medicine balls and free weights in their backyard, with his father putting him through workouts and pushing him from that point on. One article in the Star Ledger last November described those workouts, which were certainly intense. Logan's father had him catch 100 balls with each hand and 100 more from his knees. He learned to jam a reciever by also going up against his dad, who himself was a talented football player.

It even continued all the way through college and helped drive him toward becoming one of the best defensive backs in college football.  It's rare to see that type of relationship and it's even more unusual to see a player maintain that type of work ethic and remain so dedicated.

That's the reason it's so hard for many of them to get to the next level, as well as why even fewer of them go on to become successful.

Ryan plans on making sure that isn't the case.  He told the New Jersey Star Ledger when he declared for the draft that he didn't want to just be drafted, he wanted to become a great player in the National Football League.

"It’s just the start of the dream, really," Ryan said of declaring. "No one wants to just declare for the draft. I want to play in the NFL. I want to be great."

Logan Ryan says he wants to be a great player in the NFL, and he'll get his chance here in New England. (FILE:USPresswire)
He's already modeled himself after Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty, who is a former teammate of Ryan.  According to the rookie, McCourty was a big influence on him during his redshirt freshman season, helping him both in the film room and on the practice field.  After McCourty was drafted the two stayed in touch, with the Patriots defensive back texting Ryan each week during the season.

During a win over Pittsburgh during the 2011 season McCourty watched his former protege make his first career interception before later adding another that he returned for a touchdown.  It made him feel good watching Ryan succeed.

“It’s like watching one of your good friends,” McCourty told the Star Ledger that week. “It’s almost like when I watch (his twin brother) Jason play, I go crazy, too. Watching a lot of those guys out there, it’s just a great feeling.”

“I always feel like I have a close connection to the DBs and watching them play and make plays is just a great feeling. I feel like a big brother."

Now McCourty has a chance to line up next to Ryan in the coming months and will once again become his mentor.  Ryan told the media during his conference call that he's come a long way since the two first met and he's excited about the opportunity that he has ahead of him.

"The relationship that Devin and I have goes beyond words," said Ryan. "He's a guy that helped me make the transition coming from being a talented high school player to becoming a college corner, and now for him to be there for this next step - I've grown up over the years - I'm not that 18-year-old boy anymore.

"To have the opportunity to compete alongside him in practice every day and the work ethic that he brings and the great leader that he is - I'm just honored to be able to play alongside him and [be in] the Patriots organization."

He's got his work cut out for him, but like McCourty he's a guy who is a great tackler and according to most scouting reports, he has good technique and is constantly around the football.  The only knock on him seems to be that he sometimes doesn't get his head around quick enough to look for the ball, which obviously could see him get hit with a flag in the NFL.

For the Patriots, the odds are pretty good that he won't be asked to do too much early on as he learns the system. However, knowing his work ethic and his desire to be successful, it wouldn't be surprising to see him eventually battle his way into the line-up.  The good news is he's a guy who is willing to do whatever it takes and he just really loves playing football.  That's one prerequisite that never goes unnoticed with Belichick and as a result it's not exactly shocking that he ended up in New England.

In the months ahead he'll begin immersing himself in the Patriots' scheme but he doesn't sound intimidated by what lies ahead.  Whether it's man coverage or zone, Ryan says he'll do whatever he's asked to do in New England's defense.

"At Rutgers, we did a little bit of both [man-to-man and zone] in that we were high-pressure and ran NFL complex schemes, which was something that we had great success doing and Rutgers asked me to do a lot of man and zone, and be able to tackle and play special teams," said Ryan. "I'm a guy that doesn't like to come off the field and I'm a guy that wants to win games and will do whatever it takes to win games."

He sounds like a Patriot already.