Nine months and one tackle have stood between Logan Genz and history.
He completed his junior season as a member of the Arkansas Tech University football program in November 2014 with 352 career tackles, tying him with Mike Gurule (352 career tackles from 1990-93) for the school record.
Nine months is a long time to think about one tackle, but time has only sharpened Genz’s focus on his most important goal for the 2015 season.
“It’s an awesome feeling, to be one tackle away from having my name in the record books,” said Genz. “But at the same time, it’s not about the records. I didn’t come here to hold records. It’s more about the team. I just want us to have a successful season, regardless of whether I have one tackle or no tackles this year. I just want us to have a winning team.”
A 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker from West Fork, Genz is known in his hometown as one half of tandem that helped restore the high school football program to prominence.
The West Fork Tigers had suffered through 17 consecutive years without a winning season before Taylor Genz — Logan’s older brother — made his senior high debut in 2006.
Over the next five seasons, one or both of the Genz brothers helped West Fork compile a cumulative record of 41-19 while making two state semifinal appearances.
“When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to play pee wee football,” said Logan Genz. “My mom thought it wasn’t safe. When my brother made it to seventh grade, he was allowed to play, and I just idolized him. He got to do something that I couldn’t, so I just couldn’t wait to get to that time in my life when I could start playing. Ever since then, I’ve loved the game.”
Taylor Genz went on to sign with and play for St. Mary University (Kan.), and it was then that Logan knew what he wanted to do.
“My brother was two years older than me, so when he was a senior I was a sophomore,” said Genz. “He was getting looks from colleges at different places. I thought if he could do it, so could I. That pushed me even harder…having a brother that played college football. That drove me to be a college football player.”
That desire coupled with the reputation of the Arkansas Tech Department of Agriculture drew the younger Genz to Arkansas Tech.
“I knew guys from my school and schools around mine that came here, and once I visited Arkansas Tech it was the place I wanted to be,” said Genz. “It was better than any other place I visited, so I knew it was home. There is a great agriculture program here. I’m a farm boy back home, so it was something that really caught my attention.”
The 2011 football season was a time of transition for Genz. He redshirted during his first season at Arkansas Tech. The learning curve was steep.
“Everybody talks about the speed of the game, and that was really a big thing for me,” said Genz. “You’ve got the star high school football players from all around here coming to play together in one place, and that’s a big adjustment. You might be the best player where you came from, and when you get here you might be just average. It’s important to find a way to step out, be that difference maker and be the person who stands out. These are grown men out here…when you come in, you are 17 or 18 years old and playing against 21 or 22 year olds. It’s a big difference playing a man’s game.”
It was such a difference that he wondered if he could cut it.
“There’s always moments of doubt,” said Genz. “They come with times of injury. I was injured a lot at the first of my career. There was always doubt if I could make it and if I could stay healthy. The community that’s here and the family we have at Tech, there’s no way I was going to leave these guys. Ever since then, I’ve been able to stick it out and keep going.”
Genz made 105 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and 106 tackles as a sophomore in 2013. He had an Arkansas Tech single-game record 24 tackles against the University of Arkansas-Monticello on Oct. 5, 2013.
During his junior season, Genz established a new single-season Great American Conference record by registering 141 tackles. It was the second-highest single-season tackle total in Wonder Boys’ history. Genz recorded double-digit tackles in 10 of Arkansas Tech’s 11 games in 2014. He has 20 career games with 10 or more tackles.
“Throughout high school I always had a lot of tackles, but I didn’t really realize it because it was just an average thing that I did,” said Genz. “When I started playing (at Tech) as a redshirt freshman, I started racking up quite a few tackles. Everybody kept telling me I had a lot of tackles. People were telling me that triple digit tackles in a season is not common, especially as a redshirt freshman. That made me realize I can do this, and it pushed me to keep getting better.”
He’s also pushing his teammates to improve as the Wonder Boys pursue their first winning season since 2009.
“I was taught at a young age that you lead by example,” said Genz. “You don’t have to say anything. You let your actions speak for you. I had to develop my style of leadership from just being an example of how you are supposed to do things right to actually communicating about those actions. I came from a background where all I had to do was do the right thing on and off the field, and now I have to say the right things and be motivating to others.
“We’ve had a great defense since I’ve been here, and we’ve just progressed,” continued Genz. “Those young guys grew up and we’re older now. We lacked an offense in the past, and I think this year with the new coaching staff on the offensive side, the defense doesn’t feel like it’s just on our shoulders to keep the team alive. The whole attitude around the locker room is uplifted, and we feel like this is our year. We’ve got a great coaching staff, and we put in a lot of hard work in the weight room this year. We just can’t wait to get after it.”
Over these next few months Genz’s college football career will come to an end. He will graduate with his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture business with an emphasis in animal science. He and his wife, Jillian, will set out on life’s journey together. Genz says that one day he would like to become the third generation to operate the family farm in northwest Arkansas.
But for the next three months, he is locked in on walking away from Arkansas Tech football a winner.
“You couldn’t imagine the work that we’ve put in,” said Genz. “We got a new strength coach (Ross Bowsher), so everything changed. We had a completely new offseason program. Nobody knew what to expect, but we came at it with an open mind and the right attitude. Everybody was here to work. Offense, defense…it didn’t matter the position. We all came together, worked together and we got things done. I think we got a lot better.”