COLUMBIA — In January, Missouri assistant coach Andy Hill made a declaration to Logan Cheadle: if he wanted a scholarship offer from his home-state school, he needed to add some muscle to his 165-pound frame.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“That’s exactly what Andy Hill told him,” Lee’s Summit West coach Royce Boehm said. “He said you need to put on some bulk and pass the eye test.”
The coaches noticed the extra muscle when Cheadle — a 5-foot-10 cornerback who Boehm said weighs about 180 pounds — arrived in Columbia for Missouri’s Junior Day in March. He finally landed the scholarship offer, and on Thursday became Missouri’s 11th verbal commitment for the Class of 2014. You can find his highlight video here.
“I was eating and living in the weight room,” said Cheadle, who chose Missouri over offers from Indiana, Iowa State, Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa. “That was the school that had shown the most interest in me at the time, and if a school says this is what you have to do to get a full ride, you do it.
“I really want to play college football and I knew that once I got my first offer, it would be easy to get others. But that first one ended up being the right one.”
Cheadle, a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com, said he wanted to make his decision before his senior year so he could focus on leading the Titans to a state title. In his second year as a starter, he tallied 22 total tackles, eight pass deflections and four interceptions last season as the Titans reached the Missouri Class 5 quarterfinals.
Cheadle says he also made his decision at this time for practical reasons.
“Teams will give out 10 offers for certain positions and only take commitments from two or three,” Cheadle said. “Both Missouri and Iowa State are taking two corners this year so I wanted to be able to make my own choice and pick the one that was best for me. I didn’t want to regret anything.”
Boehm said Cheadle, who joins two-star Independence High School (Tenn.) cornerback Finis Stribling IV as MU’s second cornerback commitment in the 2014 class, physically and athletically resembles Missouri senior cornerback E.J. Gaines, back when the latter starred at Fort Osage High School a few years ago.
This assertion, apparently, was proved during that Junior Day visit, when Hill had Cheadle and Gaines stand next to each other.
“They brought (cornerbacks) Coach (Cornell) Ford over, they brought E.J. Gaines over and Coach Hill said there you go — the same height and the same weight coming out of high school,” said Boehm, who added that Cheadle recently ran a hand-timed 4.3 40-yard dash for the LS West staff. “It’s the same exact frame, everything. I look like it as they’re getting another E.J. Gaines.”
Gaines, of course, is now listed at 195 pounds, about 15 more than Cheadle. But Boehm sees the potential for Cheadle to grow in a similar manner, and Cheadle — who counts Gaines as a friend and says the two had a long discussion over the weekend as he neared his college decision — agrees.
“I talked to him for two hours and I walked away from that talk feeling so much more comfortable about Mizzou because he was real with me,” Cheadle said.
In Cheadle, Missouri is also getting a player with a famous relative. His cousin, actor Don Cheadle of “Ocean’s 11” and “Hotel Rwanda” fame, has posted Twitter messages repeatedly about Logan over the past several months.
“He knows what he’s doing with those tweets,” Logan said. “The first night I got my Mizzou offer, he was tweeting all about it, trying to get me more exposure because he knows that’s how recruiting works. He’s been awesome.”
Cheadle is the third 2014 defensive back to verbally pledge to the Tigers, joining Stribling and three-star East St. Louis (Ill.) safety Greg Taylor. He is also one of several Titans to pledge to Missouri over the past three years.
Senior teammate Kevin Pendleton, a three-star offensive lineman in the Class of 2014, committed to the Tigers in May, while Evan Boehm — Royce’s son — started every game at offensive guard as a true freshman last season and is now penciled in as the Tigers’ starting center.
“Missouri’s coaching staff is exceptional,” Royce Boehm said. “They’re very family oriented. You talk to Evan, you talked to Mikey Holt, they feel that. They feel that what we have at Lee’s Summit West, they’re getting at Missouri.”
Two seniors from Royce Boehm’s most recent team — linebacker Michael Holt and offensive lineman Kyle Morrison — have also agreed to join Missouri this summer as preferred walk-ons, which doesn’t surprise Cheadle.
“They’ve been in and out of my school more than any other college, and I’ve seen Coach Hill more than any other recruiter,” said Cheadle, who added that he is intrigued by the chance to prove himself in arguably the nation’s toughest conference.
Missouri is certainly not done mining Lee’s Summit West for talent. Boehm said the Tigers are keeping an eye on senior offensive lineman Evan Martin, the son of former MU defensive lineman Steve Martin, senior tight end Dale Brown and junior running back Ryan Williams, who rushed 148 times for 1,112 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and already has a Missouri offer.
But for now, at least, the Tigers are happy to nab a player with upside, one who has already shown a willingness to do what is necessary to make his dream come true.
“After I got my offer, I felt good about myself,” Cheadle said. “I know a lot of kids earn their scholarship, but I really felt like I had to work for mine. It was awesome to know I went in and dedicated myself to a goal and achieved it.”