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February 6, 2013

Mid-Missouri Tigers Make It Official

As A.J. Logan began to introduce himself to the crowd at Wednesday's Signing Day ceremony at Rock Bridge High School, a loud, booming voice from the audience interrupted his speech.

"M-I-Z, Z-O-U!"

Get used to it, A.J. You'll hear that chant a lot during the next four years. The 6-foot-2, 310-pound defensive tackle committed to Missouri immediately after coach Gary Pinkel extended him a scholarship offer in September, and he's now an official member of the Rock Bridge pipeline. Former Bruins Van Alexander, Chase Patton and John Stull have also played for their hometown university under Pinkel.

"It's just surreal," Logan said. "It feels good because for your peers, we've all grown up watching [Missouri]. To be a part of that, and be a role model for other people, it feels great."

Count Joe Burkett in the same camp. Three days after watching Jefferson City High School product and MU alum Justin Smith play in the Super Bowl, the 6-foot-3 linebacker faxed in his letter from the Jays' athletic complex shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday.

"I remember telling my dad when I was little that one of my goals was to play football at the University of Missouri," Burkett said. "I just remember being a little kid, and sitting in the stands, and always wanting to play football."

He's finished his career with the Jays. Now he's a Tiger. So technically, he's two-thirds of the way there in catching Justin Smith. Of course, he'll have to play in a Super Bowl first.

"He's one of my idols," Burkett said. "I wish he would have pulled out a win."

Burkett, who needed surgery on his ankle in the eighth game of his senior season and required two metal bands to hold it together, said Wednesday he's "100 percent" healthy. He also said he's been told he'll play weakside linebacker, even though he's capable of playing other positions as well.

"Joey's got some rawness to him," coach Dave Steckel said. "When I say rawness, I mean he was a safety, outside linebacker, moved to middle linebacker… He's gonna be a hard-nosed kid and I love that kid."

The feeling is mutual.

"Coach Steckel is fantastic," Burkett said. "He's always got so much energy going into every single practice."

And as two native mid-Missourians and lifelong MU fans, you know enthusiasm in the black and gold won't be a problem for either Logan or Burkett.

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