The surfer boy stereotype doesn’t suit Logan Kilgore.
Sure, his curly brown hair flows well outside the constraints of his Middle Tennessee State baseball cap. But even his mane’s current length has a purpose.
“I was going to cut it after the bowl game [last year],” Kilgore says with a bite to his answer. “When that didn’t happen … I guess I’ll just wait.”
He promised to be clean cut when MTSU begins preseason practice on Friday.
His hometown is just 30 minutes north of Sacramento but Kilgore lacks the relaxed, flakey, spacy and lackadaisical qualities often associated with Californians. Instead, he embodies the reliability and dependableness expected in a fifth-year senior quarterback.
“When I think of California, I think of that surfer guy, free spirit,” coach Rick Stockstill said. “But he is not like that. He is a good guy off the field, laid back. Not flakey, goofy, silly acting. He is a very mature kid off the field. He has all those intangibles you look for.”
The 23-year-old Kilgore enters his final season of college football in the top five on MTSU’s all-time charts in career attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdowns. His 14 games of 200 or more passing yards are the third-most in school history.
Plus, he is already ahead of the academic curve. He earned his bachelor’s degree last August and is currently working on his master’s degree in business administration. He hopes to shelve that career in lieu of a chance in the NFL.
“I think I’m a motivated guy,” he said. “I don’t think I’m a laid-back personality. Definitely when it comes to football, I’ll be the first one in and the last one out. I love to compete.”
He attributes his drive to his parents, Bobby and Laura, who were at all 12 of his games last year — from Murfreesboro to Memphis to Atlanta to Starksville, Miss., to Jonesboro, Ark.
“I think if I was in the band, my parents would help me be the best trumpet player in the world,” he said. “I think the fact that I’ve played quarterback, they have given me every opportunity and I’m just thankful to have them. I’m just excited to someday be able to tell them to kick back and enjoy the ride. They sacrifice so much, come to every single game. All the way from California, that is not easy. Just to provide for them would be an honor.”
The athletic genes run in the family. His older sister, Taylor, played Division II basketball at Humboldt State (Calif.). She has worked at MTSU, co-hosting a weekly sports report for the school’s website, and has interned at News Channel 5 in Nashville.
“She is the real athlete in the family,” he said with a smile.
For Kilgore, his big break took some time.
At Jesuit High School in Rocklin, Calif., he lacked the playing time needed to draw interest from college coaches.
“I sat behind our head coach’s son,” he said. “So I knew I had to go to junior college for a year.”
Kilgore stayed in California for the 2009 season and threw for 2,512 yards and 22 touchdowns for Bakersfield College. He was named his conference’s offensive MVP but the Division I offers didn’t roll in. In fact, he remembers the UTEP coaching staff stopping by in need of a quarterback or an offensive lineman. He never received an offer for either spot.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t fit the greatness of a UTEP quarterback,” said Kilgore, who welcomes UTEP to Murfreesboro in the regular-season finale on Nov. 30. “Most of the reason people go to junior college is because they’re not qualified. That wasn’t the case for me. I just needed some film. Being a qualifier, not many people realize that or take the time to figure that out. I talked to a bunch of schools but nobody that felt like I was important enough to grab. Coach Stockstill believed in me from day one.”
Kilgore has started every year — three games in 2010 in place of suspended senior Dwight Dasher before redshirting the rest of the season, 10 in 2011 and all 12 last year. He completed 63.3 percent of his passes and threw for 2,571 yards to become the second MTSU quarterback with consecutive 2,000-yard seasons.
His 16 touchdowns and only six interceptions helped the Blue Raiders to an 8-4 record. But MTSU did not receive an invitation to a bowl, which Kilgore uses as motivation for his final season – and the Blue Raiders’ first in Conference USA.
“People talk about these quarterbacks coming in and can they compete?” Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue, who spent the last three summers with Kilgore at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy, said. “Logan can compete in any conference. He has a great arm. He plays with a chip on his shoulder because he wasn’t highly recruited. Coming off of this season and getting the bowl snub, he is going to be even more motivated than ever to come out and prove they should have been in a bowl and that they belong in a bowl in this conference. I’m excited to watch him.”
This year he could bring another wrinkle to the field.
At 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds, Kilgore is a pass-first quarterback in a spread offense. But Stockstill wants his strong-armed quarterback to buck the system every now and then and run.
Stockstill believes Kilgore has the arm strength and accuracy to make every throw. But he also thinks he is athletic enough to run for a first down if needed. In his first three years, Kilgore has totaled just 190 rushing yards. Stockstill wants him to top 300 this season.
“I think we have to expand a little bit and make him become a runner,” he said. “He is a really good athlete. He is a good basketball player. He is a good golfer. I bet he was a good baseball player. He has the ability to do it.”
Not to mention dependable enough. Even if a stereotype says otherwise.
“Logan is everything you want to coach in a player from an intangible standpoint,” Stockstill said. “He is a person of great character. He has a tremendous work ethic. He is a good leader. He is a guy who is dependable and accountable. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person and as a player.”