Football coaches come in all shapes and sizes. There are even some who didn’t play the game. That’s the case with Mayville State wide receivers coach Logan Levy, an Owings Mills and UMBC graduate.
Levy began his journey to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics-affiliated North Dakota school as a lacrosse player at Owings Mills. Often known for having a lot of bark for someone of his stature (5 feet 7½ — he emphasizes the importance of the half inch), he ruffled the feathers of opposing defenses by chirping from his attack position. In his senior year, Levy had a team-leading 17 goals and had 10 assists. He graduated in 2013.
He never played a lick of high school or college football, but he always loved the game. Levy wrote articles for SB Nation’s Ravens fan site, Baltimore Beatdown, breaking down tape on players and potential draft picks, and handling editing duties. Levy also worked for Baltimore sports station 105.7 FM The Fan as a producer.
“I graduated from UMBC in December 2018 and then after I graduated, I was doing some work at a blog in college and undergrad,” Levy said. “Then after that, I kind of realized that I wanted to get out of the media and get into the football personnel side of things.”
It put him on a new journey and he ended up as the pro scouting coordinator for Optimum Scouting, a consulting service that works with professional leagues and college athletes. It also assesses the athletes’ abilities and whether they are ready to enter the draft. In this role, he worked with the XFL personnel department.
He was also the assistant director of player personnel with YourCall Football, a professional football site that allowed fans to call plays. He ended up working with the company in the league’s second season in Jacksonville, Florida, while assisting its XFL launch. Levy’s duties included organizing, scouting players, setting up combines, attending events and evaluating workouts. It dawned on him that coaching was where he wanted to be.
“I realized that being a guy that has never played the game, it was going to be a challenge to get there,” Levy said. “I wasn’t going to let someone tell me ‘no’ to my dream. So, I applied to 128 jobs and I got three interviews. I got one offer and that offer was to Mayville State. To me, I decided that Mayville would be a good start.”
Mayville State is a small public university that has a little less than 1,200 students. The school participates in the NAIA’s North Star Athletic Association, which includes teams from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. In his first season with the staff, Levy wore many hats, including wide receivers coach, recruiting coordinator and academic coordinator. He also directs analytics and budgeting for scholarships.
Last season, the Comets went 2-8 (1-6 in conference play). Coach Jeff Larson was replaced by Rocky Larson at the end of the season and Rocky Larson retained Levy on his staff, citing his vast knowledge and the ability to pin down players’ strengths and weaknesses.
“My second day on the job, I went through and interviewed every coach on the staff because I could bring in whoever I wanted,” Larson said. “We ended up retaining two of the seven that were on the staff last year. When I sat down with him, he pulled up a report of every kid that was on the roster, their strengths and weaknesses, and he pulled up every recruit that had committed to us and with the exact same. Then, he had all of the top kids available that I had to call that day.
“My first impression was that this kid wants to go to work and he’s a grinder from that standpoint. It was a good half-hour conversation and I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely we’re going to keep him on board.' That was really cool to have that stuff and just walking in and not being sure about anything. Then, I have this big report on what every kid is about.”
Levy is big believer in analytics, a term used to describe cutting-edge data-driven research. Many times, sports analytics jobs are held by people that didn’t play the sport, but the numbers help inform team decisions. A few seasons ago, the Ravens hired 25-year-old Daniel Stern, who holds a degree in behavioral economics from Yale. With Stern assisting offensive coordinator Greg Roman and other coaches from a statistical perspective as the team’s football analyst, the Ravens finished with a franchise-best 14-2 record in 2019.
Levy’s work helps figure out his team’s strengths, and its weaknesses. It’s all part of the process of making Mayville State a better football program.
“I believe that having a lot of information is never bad thing, it’s just about finding out when you use it and how to use it and not take up your time,” Levy said. “Last year, my duties were analytics-heavy and coaching the wide receivers for a good split and then we talked about it and got it down to a process of what we want to do from an analytics standpoint.
“We’ll work on tendency stuff and we’ll look at how teams do that, we’ll get into some prediction analytics ― we can say ‘based on their tendencies, they might be doing this’ or what we believe will happen, based on all of the data that we have. So, for us it’s finding that balance. From day-to-day operations for me, I think that analytics part plays a big part in opponent scouting and self-scouting."
The state of Maryland has several football players who have gone to top-flight NCAA programs such as Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Penn State. In 2017, Bleacher Report ranked Maryland as the 16th state in the country for elite football talent. Sometimes players in the Baltimore and Washington areas fall through the cracks. That’s where Levy comes in for Mayville State.
“That’s why we recruit Maryland — he’s got family there, he’s from there, he can relate to those kids,” Larson said about Levy. “When I was building a staff, it was crucial. Even when you’re not from an area, but you have very strong connections — I have very strong connections to Las Vegas and Arizona.
“So, Logan can speak to those kids because he did it. He packed up and moved out here, he knows the struggles and the positives, he can talk directly to a Maryland kid about what it’s like because he’s done it.”
As the coronavirus has spread in many states, North Dakota has had just 1,371 confirmed cases as of Saturday. Traill County, where Mayville State is located, had no confirmed cases. It’s made it easier for Levy to meet with coaches one-on-one and talk with coaches on video platforms such as Zoom.
“For me in terms of the Maryland recruiting, I was planning to come back in the spring, hit some schools and talk with the 2021 guys and introduce them to Mayville State,” Levy said. "The only thing that changed for me in Maryland recruiting was that we’re unable to do that. I’ve done Zoom calls. I talked with several coaches about players and I’m definitely looking forward to coming back [to Maryland] whenever this thing clears up or we’re able to travel again to be in the schools and talk to players.
“That’s the biggest thing is that it’s all relationship-based. I believe that’s what the coronavirus has put a damper on is that it’s harder to build those relationships over the phone or texting. It’s something to be said for showing up and talking to someone face-to-face because they can understand who I am, they can get a feel for me and vice versa.”