Orion, Illinois has a population under 2,000. A Charger football game on Friday nights in the fall will host a small fraction of that. But one of those Chargers turned out to be a Hawkeye team captain — defensive lineman Logan Lee.

“It means a lot just growing up where I did,” Lee said. “It’s cool being one of the first individuals to be able to pursue a sport at a power five school. I’ve been very fortunate with my upbringing with the relationships that I’ve had and the support system that I currently have, too. So I’m just extremely blessed with gifts that God has given me.”

Numerous Power 5 schools offered Lee a scholarship — including six Big Ten and two SEC schools. But Orion’s hot commodity elected to have his college experience close to home, in one of the countries’ best at producing elite-level defensive players.

Lee’s had a unique college experience. He’s married, and he’s the only Hawkeye player that is married. Lee and his wife Tori live together in North Liberty, and his maturity has rubbed off on the rest of his teammates.

“He’s one of our most mature guys — that’s probably because he’s married,” linebacker Jay Higgins said. “You can tell he’s in a different headspace than a lot of our guys that we have in the locker room — and that helps us out.”

Lee was voted a team captain and has turned in another stellar performance on the interior defensive line. Through 10 games he’s notched a pair of sacks, four tackles for loss and 43 total tackles. He also blocked a field goal attempt against Iowa State.

“Just knowing that you have a reliable guy who’s logged a lot of snaps for us in the interior is one of the reasons why we’ve been having success on the run game so far,” Higgins said of Lee’s play on the field.

Logan Lee has used his time off the field for good — including a trip to Ecuador the past two springs to install water filters in remote villages. In July, he was recognized for the Allstate AFCA Good Works team.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz thinks Lee’s marital status reminds him of another Hawkeye he coached over two decades prior.

“Coincidentally, I just mentioned Aaron Kampman a little while ago,” Ferentz said. “When Aaron was here, he was like a 45-year-old guy on our team. He was married too, coincidentally, as an underclassman. He and Linde got married spring of their junior year. The parallels are pretty uncanny.

“They’re both just mature beyond their years, focused. You worry about those guys having enough fun sometimes. Did they miss out on some of the good stuff you do in college? I know Aaron turned out pretty happy and pretty content, and I think Logan is, too.”

“Just came with an unusual maturity. He’s been a good guy that way. He’s like a lot of guys, going through the hardships. He’s had injuries, surgeries, which again people forget about what these guys go through physically. The hard work involved coming back from rehab. He’s done all that. Always had a great attitude, and it continues to grow, great leader.”

Logan Lee will say his Kinnick goodbyes this Saturday, as it’s potentially his final home game of his college career. Lee does have another year of eligibility remaining but would not clarify whether he would use it or not.

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Iowa defensive lineman Logan Lee (85) jumps on defensive lineman Yahya Black (94) after Black forced a fumble against Wisconsin during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)