While sitting out of a second college basketball season in 2019, a discussion with his brother helped Logan Strom decide to recommit to football and finish his college career playing tight end.
During his process to become a football player again, he drew offers from Kansas, Rutgers and San Diego State. But Tuesday, the 6-foot-7 Nebraska native signed to play for Weber State and will be a junior for the 2020 season.
He signed on the same day as 6-foot-5 quarterback transfer Randall Johnson, and the two stand as the final additions for the Wildcats headed into fall camp in late July.
In late winter, Strom dropped an email to several Weber State football coaches and tight ends coach Skyler Ridley, offensive coordinator Matt Hammer and head coach Jay Hill all saw it at about the same time.
“You know a 6-foot-7 tight end triggered me to open my email,” Ridley said.
That led to an offer in early May and eventually to Strom’s commitment over this past weekend.
“I just fell in love right away. They were just the kind of people I was looking to play for in coaches, because I’ve experienced the good part of coaching and the bad part of coaching,” Strom said. “I know these guys mean what they say, they really embraced my whole family throughout this process and made me feel like I was important to them. ... I couldn’t be more excited.”
HOOPS TO FOOTBALL
Strom grew up in Norfolk, a city in northeast Nebraska, playing football and basketball.
“It was a predominantly basketball town so that was always kind of my first choice growing up and in high school,” he said.
By the time he finished high school, he held 17 Division I basketball offers and 10 Division I football offers, despite only playing two years of high school football.
He says he was “really close” to committing to Cincinnati over top football offers from Buffalo, Colorado State and Wyoming, but his basketball visit to UC Davis won him over. He chose Davis basketball over San Diego, Wright State and Nebraska Omaha.
But after the shock of a cross-country move and redshirting in the 2017-18 season, he decided to move back “just to grow up a little bit” and transferred to Nebraska Omaha, about 100 miles from home.
But his waiver request for immediate basketball eligibility was denied, so he sat the 2018-19 season as well.
“I was talking with my brother about where football might have taken me versus redshirting for two years. It’s not good to look back, but right then I decided football was something I could still do. ... I decided I was going to take football seriously after the season and really dedicate myself to it.”
While Strom remained enrolled in school, he worked a Congressional internship and now works in the dietary department of a local veterans home. He’s also worked out with Shon King — a Norfolk resident and former JUCO All-American, Division II All-American and Arena Football League star receiver.
As Strom began lifting like a football player again, King helped him over the last six months on the field.
“We’ve been working on routes, footwork, just polishing everything about me from a football angle. And I started to get some recruiting attention for that,” Strom said. “My body is definitely more suited for football than it is for basketball.”
With three-year-old high school tape in hand, Strom filmed his workouts with King and sent both along to coaches across the country.
It’s not the normal recruiting process for a football player. Ridley said there were reservations, but it simply required a different kind of research — adding that programs like Weber State often have players two years removed from football for missionary service.
Ridley said WSU coaches often like to see football prospects play games in other sports when they make recruiting trips, so Strom being a Division I basketball player was a positive.
“Even though I wasn’t in a football locker room, I know and understand the rigors of a Division I schedule,” Strom said. “I’ve been through those 6 a.m. workouts and lifts, I know the work side of it. ... My two years playing basketball at the Division I level has changed my body, just improved my athleticism and I think a lot of it will translate to the football field.”
The workouts revealed his progress and a quick return to football form.
“What stood out to us from Day 1 is his ability to catch the ball,” Ridley said. “He has strong hands, a huge catch radius, has a good feel for windows, when to speed up, when to throttle, knows how to use his body, and a lot of that stuff comes from being a basketball player.”
WHY WEBER STATE
Strom’s workouts and high school film were good enough that, despite a prolonged absence from the gridiron, he earned offers from power-conference teams like Kansas and Rutgers.
While that might sound better on paper than FCS football, it was Strom’s discussions with former Weber State All-American tight end Andrew Vollert that helped him hone in on WSU.
“He was really able to give me some good advice. He just kind of gave me his two cents on this time in my career, just looking for the best place for me individually and not just because a school is Power 5 or has how much money or whatever. It was really just about the relationships and the environment I was going to be in,” Strom said of his conversations with Vollert, who is now with the Los Angeles Chargers.
“He was really cool about it. He didn’t try to pressure me into committing to Weber, he was really just taking a personal interest in how I was feeling and what I thought the best route was for me, and then he just talked to me about his experience.”
Strom also leaned on his own college experience.
“I’ve kind of seen what goes on inside college programs. This time around, I just had a certain list of things I wanted to hit and Weber State definitely got all of those,” Strom said. “I wanted to make sure this time around that it wasn’t for the name of the school, that I was going to be some place where I wanted to be and felt like I could succeed.
“They had the right things in place for me at Weber. I just found myself fitting in well with players and coaches and the environment there. It’s a winning environment built on a lot of success and pride, and that’s definitely something I noticed right off the bat.”
Strom said part of Hammer’s recruiting pitch was pointing out Weber State’s recent success — three straight conference titles and three straight quarterfinals appearances — came while putting a somewhat pedestrian offense on the field.
“So if we get the right guys in here and get the offense going the way the defense is playing, there’s a lot of special things that could happen,” he said.
LOOKING TO 2020 SEASON
Both Ridley and Strom expressed patience in Strom’s conversion back to being a football athlete.
“They’ve made it clear that they’re willing to be patient with me and spend time to get me to a place where I can succeed and do great things,” Strom said. “So I’m mostly just excited to see how I can progress and how much potential I have.
“I just want to do my part to win a Big Sky title game and get to the FCS national championship game. I see myself as someone who can be a big pass-catching target, run well, catch well, and also get dirty inside and block and hold my own that way.”
Ridley said the signings of Strom and Johnson add to an exciting build up to the 2020 season.
“There are very few teams across the country who finished like we did last year, and to have 16 starters coming back is exciting,” Ridley said. “There’s obviously some key positions where we’re going to have some competition in camp but we feel like we have talented and committed players who will thrive in the competition.”
The coronavirus pandemic shut down WSU’s spring camp after just two practices in March. Wednesday, the NCAA finalized a model, which needs approval from the Division I Council, that would allow football teams to begin official ramp-up activities on July 13 and open camp on Aug. 7.
“It’s been a unique offseason and a unique summer but our players have handled it really well,” Ridley said. “In our first two weeks back on campus, you can tell a majority of our team did what they needed to, continued to work and prepare for summer and fall workouts. So the vibe around the team is exciting.”