Jace Logan’s legacy: Soroco athlete commits to University of Wyoming
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The muddy ground is not yet dry enough for Jace Logan, 18, to practice rodeo in his arena in Yampa.
He rides his horse, Grey, around in circles on a spring break day, just to keep her in shape for the high school season on the horizon. Later, he’ll take her down to McCoy with his dad, Mark, and brothers, Eric, 20, and Kody, 16, to practice where it’s dry.
Before entering the arena, there’s an iron sign that reads, “Logan,” with different rodeo animals carved underneath. From the arena, you can see Yampa’s Finger Rock in the distance. Rodeo, unlike other sports Jace has played, is a lifestyle, which is why he best sees his future in it, but that wasn’t always clear to him.
“For a long time, I’ve always dreamed I was going to be a football player,” Logan said. “We went to Vegas last year for the junior All-American game and that showed me what it would be like to play college football. I had a lot of fun. Everybody there was good, it raised your level. But, at that point, I knew it would be more of a job and rodeo I still have fun every single time I get on a horse and ride the circle.”
Yards more traveled
Logan’s football career is inscribed Colorado High School Athletic Association’s record books. He’s the second all-time leading rusher in the state of Colorado, averaging 13.19 yards per carry. His 116 career touchdowns ranks as No. 5 in the state, the same list as the NFL Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey’s name ranks second on.
His 7,595 career rushing yards is No. 3 in the state to former Colorado State University running back Kyle Bell and NFL running back Lendale White, who enjoyed four years in the NFL after a collegiate career at University of Southern California.
But Logan’s presence on the football field will only be in a Soroco High School uniform. He’s signed his letter of intent to compete in rodeo for the University of Wyoming.
“I got a lot of emails from DII and DIII schools, if I was going to play football, I would’ve wanted to play DI, but I didn’t get contacted by them,” Logan said. “I didn’t put my name out there as much as I could’ve.”
Logan’s numbers stack up against some 11-man and 8-man football players. As an 8-man football player, Logan played both sides of the ball, but with three fewer players, there are less barriers to run the length of a field. The field is also 13 1/3 yards narrower.
But that’s not to belittle Logan, who led the state in 8-man rushing yards during his junior and senior years, even despite not making playoffs his senior year. He was No. 3 in the state during his sophomore season.
Eight-man football players require a heightened level of athleticism since they play both sides of the ball. It’s been noted new stars like Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch are highly skilled in open-field tackling because of it. The 1994 University of Colorado Boulder Heisman Trophy winner, Rashaan Salaam, played 8-man football for La Jolla High School in California.
It takes exposure, which is what 8-man football players lack coming from small towns like Oak Creek. But Logan also learned that his odds to make Vegas in the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Assocation someday are far better than even on the sidelines for the Denver Broncos.
“The rewards after football … I play college football and then what? I’ll be all crippled and stuff,” Logan said. “With rodeo, you practice every day … and I just enjoy it so much, I enjoy football practice, but I always have fun when I practice rodeo, no matter what event it is.”
His career is unforgettable. Even in defeat, opposing coaches see Logan as someone they can’t hate because such a spectacle is so rare.
“This past year, we opened with South Park, he ran for 450 yards,” Soroco head football coach Dick Dudas said. “Their coach comes up and sits besides me, ‘I don’t care how much you beat us, I was having such a pleasure watching him run.'”
But despite Logan’s God-given talent, his work ethic never let up. His knack for hurdling fallen players on breakaway runs in practice called for a two-lap punishment since hurdling makes a player more vulnerable to massive hits midair. But he was willing.
“He didn’t expect anything extra,” Dudas said. “It was the automatic, drop the football and get moving and he’d do it.”
Never backing down from a fight
Logan knew he wanted to beat Wray junior Carlos Tarin to win a state title.
Tarin, 170, pinned Logan in the wrestling championship match during his junior year in 5 minutes and 28 seconds. When Logan finished his senior football season, he weighted 185 pounds. But cutting weight for one season was seen as a small sacrifice in his lifetime to finally win a state title after three straight years in the runner-up position.
“I’m glad he finally did it. I don’t know what we all would’ve done if he didn’t,” Soroco wrestling coach Jay Whaley said. “He was in control the whole match … It was just good to see how excited he was, every other year he had walked out as a loser, for the first time he walked off as a winner.”
Logan finished his wrestling career with 154 wins and 14 losses, eight losses coming from his freshman year. He’s tied for the 12th best high school record in Colorado history. But wrestling was never something he thought of pursuing past high school since he fell short of a title every year and the coaches didn’t call until after he committed to a life of rodeo.
Lasso-ing life on the road
Logan won the state championship in steer wrestling his sophomore year, but has placed within the top four in one or more events since his freshman year to make nationals. He currently competes in team roping with his brother, Kody, and tie-down roping.
The high school rodeo season is split in two: August through October and April through May. Logan’s Friday nights on the football field often only permitted just a few hours of sleep before waking up at 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. the next morning to drive to a rodeo. If he was lucky, the away game would be on the route to his rodeo, so his family could park the horses in the parking lot during the game and drive over to the next town after for more rest.
“Everyone asks me what’s my favorite sport and I say, ‘Whatever is in season,'” Logan said. “When it’s football season, I love football. That’s all I think about, same with wrestling and now that it’s rodeo I’m ready for rodeo.”
There was little time for rodeo practice in the fall. His goal was to just stay in contention with his points before hitting the ground running with training in the spring to prepare for the state finals in May and nationals in July.
“Rodeo is going to be an extension of his football and wrestling,” Logan’s rodeo coach and 1996 steer wrestling world champion Chad Bedell said. “He has lots of body control, balance and coordination, all you need to be a sports athlete.”
Now that he’s 18, Logan is eligible to compete in PRCA-sanctioned rodeos, and his first was the Denver qualifier in December 2018. He’ll hit the road this summer with his older brother, Eric, a rodeo team competitor at Odessa College in Texas, for more experience.
Jace chose Wyoming because it’s two hours away from home, so if he needs a horse change, it won’t be the 13-hour hike his brother makes. It’s also one of the best programs in the nation.
Jace leaves behind a legacy in Soroco, but he’s humble, fearing that people might look to his younger brother, Kody, to be like him. His dad, Mark, was a football star for Soroco and his older brother, Eric, was too.
“People always compare you to somebody else or say you have somebody’s shoes to fill,” Jace said. “My mentality about it is, I’ve always wanted to fill my own shoes. I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh I have to be as good as my dad or as good as my brothers.’ And I hope Kody feels this way too.”
Kody fought his way through the consolation quarterfinal in state wrestling and led the football team in tackles until a knee injury put him out for season.
“Now I hope Kody has bright things someday,” Jace said. “I hope Kody is so special people go, ‘Who is Jace Logan?'”