IOWA CITY, Ia. – Logan Lee has his priorities straight.
“It is faith first, then family, then football,’ said Iowa’s junior defensive tackle. “I’m just doing my best to keep those in line. Nothing I do will be able to deviate from that. Football means a ton to me, don’t get me wrong. It has given me a lot of opportunities. And I typically do a decent job of trying to make the most of my opportunities.”
Lee, who is listed as Iowa’s No. 1 right defensive tackle, added to one of his priorities on July 3 when he married Tori Verbeck in Geneseo, Ill. After a weeklong honeymoon in Hayward, Wis., Lee is back with his teammates as off-season workouts continue.
“I actually met her in the seventh grade, but we really didn’t talk at all,” Lee said. “We started dating my sophomore year of high school. So we’ve been together for six years now.”
They got engaged on Dec. 30 at a Citrus Bowl event in Orlando, Fla. Tori, who competed in track and field at Wisconsin-Whitewater, has landed a student teaching job as a physical education instructor in Iowa City. She wants to be a P.E. teacher at the elementary level.
While Tori adapts to a new profession, her husband will be trying to balance his life as a student-athlete and a husband.
“It will be a little different, trying to balance everything,” Logan said. “But it will be a really cool opportunity.”
It’s taken some time for the three-sport star at Orion High School in Orion,, Ill., to reach the field. He was redshirted in 2019, then played in just two games in 2020. But instead of getting lost in the shuffle, Lee became a major factor in Iowa’s defensive line last season. He started all 14 games in 2022.
“I know the gifts and blessings I’ve been given,” said the 6-foot-5, 277-pounder. “And I’m doing my best each and every day to be able to live up to those. I’ll never be able to be perfect, but taking another step closer to perfection is what I’m shooting for every day.”
Lee played defensive end earlier in his career, but he’s found tackle to be a better position for him.
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“I thought it was quite a bit easier, going from end to tackle,” Lee said. “Everything hits a lot quicker fundamentally. But conceptually, it’s much simpler.”
Lee had 48 tackles overall last season. That included five tackles for a loss and three sacks. He also recovered a fumble, and had a seven-tackle game in the victory over Penn State.
“The biggest thing I’ve always valued is being able to help the team as much as I can, and working as hard as I can, to put myself in that position,” Lee said. “I’ve always been very confident with my abilities, and willing to bet on myself. I knew my time would come, and it was able to come last year. I’m planning on completely exceeding that this year.”
Iowa’s defensive line, coached by Kelvin Bell, looks deep and experienced heading into the season. Defensive ends Joe Evans and John Waggoner are three-year lettermen. Sophomore Lukas Van Ness, who lettered while playing mostly defensive tackle last season, is expected to play end this season. Noah Shannon has lettered three seasons at defensive tackle. Lee, Deontae Craig, Yahya Black and Louie Stec have also lettered while playing across the defensive line.
“We’ve got a great group,” Lee said. “There are a ton of guys capable of playing, close to a dozen guys there.”
A true freshman, Aaron Graves, could add to that depth.
“He looks really good,” Lee said. “He’s moving really well. He’s a great kid. I’m a big fan of his. It will be exciting to see what he’s able to do. I’m going to try and take him under my wing.”
Lee said the depth across the line will prove beneficial in several areas.
“I think it will be a great opportunity for each of us to grow, and throw different looks at teams,” he said. “There are a lot of strengths that we have. And we’ll be able to mix and match different packages.”
Individually, Lee would like to improve his conditioning, which would lead to more time on the field. He also wants to add some weight, increase his knowledge of the defensive schemes and improve his pass rush with better hand work and hand-eye coordination.
“I just want to help the defense as much as I can with my production,” Lee said.