tampabay.com

No lazy days of summer as NFL looms

Land O'Lakes' Logan Payne is out to prove he deserves a spot with the Seahawks.

By IZZY GOULD
Published June 24, 2007


LAND O'LAKES - Logan Payne is home this week for a little down time before the biggest tryout of his life.

The former Land O'Lakes/Minnesota receiver signed a free-agent contract last month with the Seattle Seahawks and will join the team July 26 for preseason camp. Payne returned to Land O'Lakes on Thursday after a pair of minicamps and recently reflected on the dream of an NFL career.

"It's unexplainable, " Payne said of being handed a Seahawks helmet. "You come in and as every kid that plays the sport you realize this is what it's about. Everything you've worked towards, all the workouts and extra time you put in has paid off. I'm here, and I still have a little further to go. Hopefully I can make the team."

Payne sat and watched a long, agonizing draft come and go without hearing his name. The minute the draft was over his phone rang and the short free-agent frenzy began.

After watching the draft for days he had just minutes to choose an NFL team.

"It was kind of a crazy process because after the draft I had 10 minutes to make a decision, " Payne said. "Teams had offered me deals to sign with them. We had to make a quick decision. They had to make a quick decision because if they don't think they can get me they have to go off and get someone else."

Seattle offered Payne the best deal - a two-year non-guaranteed contract that would pay him $285, 000 this year and $370, 000 in 2008, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He also got an $11, 000 signing bonus.

"It was a great situation personnel-wise, " Payne said. "They gave me the most money and they brought me out on a visit so I got to see what I was getting. They got to see me as a player and got to know me more. It worked out great other than I'm far from home, about as far as I can get."

In the days that followed the draft Payne literally lived out of a suitcase. He attended a pair of minicamps - the first began May 3 and he stayed in Seattle in between for conditioning.

Payne and the other rookies lived in a hotel, and the experience of being about as far from Land O'Lakes as possible forced him to get to know his new teammates.

"I've made a lot of good friends, " Payne said. "They have all the rookies in the same spot. We've been hanging out."

Payne also worked firsthand with all the Seahawks' big names, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander.

At first, Payne was nervous. Then he focused on competing.

"In the back of your mind you're wondering if you can really play with these guys, " Payne said. "The West Coast Offense is kind of crazy. ...The feedback I've gotten makes me feel really confident. Obviously, we're talking about the NFL.

"For me or any one of these rookies to make the team we're going to have to take a guy's spot who's played in the NFL."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@tampabay.com or 727 580-5315.