Not exactly the hop, skip and a jump away that makes a weekend junket feasible -- well unless you own an airplane. No, I am not planning a trip to those cities, although it would be fun.
On Friday night, the Tigers and Indians open a crucial (baseball) series in the American League Central division at Comerica in Detroit. The battle for first place promises a lot of balls flying all over the park this weekend. Yet, it is a nondescript preseason football game in Cleveland that will capture my attention.
When the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns gather for an exhibition NFL game on Friday, a pair of former University of South Dakota Coyotes -- Stefan Logan (Lions) and Ko Quaye (Browns) -- will have a chance to reacquaint themselves.
Quaye who spent parts of last season with both Jacksonville and Buffalo practice squads was signed to the Browns active roster in December. A 6-1, 307 pound defensive lineman, Quaye of Brooklyn Park, Minn., was a four-year letter winner at USD from 2006-09.
As a Coyote he recorded 99 career tackles, 5.5 sacks and an interception. In his freshman season, he was a reserve lineman (eight tackles, one sack) on the playoff-bound Coyotes in 2006. It was during that year that he first came into contact with Logan.
At the time, Logan was in the process of becoming arguably the greatest running back in USD school history. A finalist for the 2006 NCAA Division II Player of the Year Award (finished eighth in the voting), Logan was the only player in school and North Central Conference (now defunct) history to rush for 1,000 yards for four consecutive seasons. Logan exited USD after the 2006 season as its all-time leading rusher with 5,958 yards and was just the 11th Division II player to rush for 5,000 yards and gain 6,000 all-purpose yards (7th, all-time in DII with 7,770 yards). As a senior he had 1,707 rushing yards (3rd all time at USD), totaling 13 TDs, including both a punt and kickoff return for a score.
When he left the Vermillion campus, Logan had set 15 school records. As a senior, he averaged 7.4 yards per rush and 132.6 rushing yards per game which ranked 25th all-time in Division II. A player with a quick burst and surprising power, Logan set the NCAA record for yards in a quarter with 184 (Truman State, 2005). In that 2005 game, he rushed for a career-best 295 yards, averaging a school record 22.6 yards per carry.
During his stellar career as a Coyote, Logan had a school-record 34 100-yard rush games, which also tied the Division II record. He had 14 career games with 160 yards or more, four, 200-yard rushing games and two others in which he totaled 199 yards in his career.
A 5-6, 180 pound wide receiver and kick returner, Logan has electrified the NFL for the past two seasons as a returner. In 2009, he set the Pittsburgh Steelers single season kick return record with 1,466 yards, finishing second in the league with his 26.7 per return average. Logan, who was signed by Pittsburgh after a standout year with the British Columbia Lions, was surprisingly cut at the end of training camp in 2010. He was almost immediately grabbed by Detroit. For the 2010 Lions, Logan, named a Pro Bowl alternate, had 55 kickoff returns for 1,448 yards for 26.3 yards. He was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Oct. 13 after an electrifying 105-yard kickoff return TD in week five against the St. Louis Rams. The return was the second longest in Lions' history and the sixth longest in NFL history. On the season, he also had 15 rushes for 95 yards. He will be back again this year read to keep Ford Field buzzing.
While Logan and Quaye will rekindle their friendship, the Detroit-Cleveland games, USD, as well as SDSU, have past connections with both NFL franchises.
For example, did you know that SD Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Rasmussen was in the same starting Lions defensive backfield as current Pittsburgh defensive coordinator and NFL Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau? Or, that SDSU great Pete Retzlaff was drafted by the Detroit Lions but never played a down for them?
Retzlaff, who set 16 SDSU records in football and track, is originally of Ellendale (N.D.) High School. A 1953 graduate of SDSU, Retzlaff tried his NFL fortunes after leaving the military service but his contract was sold by Detroit to the Philadelphia Eagles (1956-66). He played in five Pro Bowls and set an Eagles record for the most receiving yards in a career 7,412 with 47 TDs. He received the Bert Bell Award as NFL MVP by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia in 1965. His uniform number 44 was retired. While a great receiver for the Eagles, he was a fullback for the Jacks where set a then SDSU single-season rushing record with 1,016 yards in 1951.
Rasmussen ranks as one of the greatest athletes ever at South Dakota State University. A Howard, S.D., native, Rasmussen was a three-star athlete at SDSU before being drafted in the ninth round of the 1964 draft by the Lions.
A retired Citibank executive, Rasmussen played three sports for the Jacks (football, basketball and baseball), earning All-NCC honors in each of the sports. As a starting point guard, he led the Jackrabbits to the 1963 DII championship team and was named the national tourney's outstanding player.
A South Dakota Hall of Fame honoree, he played nine seasons in Detroit (1964-72), accumulating 16 career interceptions and had a pair of TD returns in 1965. While in Detroit, he played for George Wilson, Harry Gilmer and Joe Schmidt. His teams had a 60-55-11 record, including a 10-4 mark in 1970.
Then there is the case of USD's Jamel White and SDSU's Steve Heiden, who were teammates in Cleveland from 2002-03.
White, who starred for head coach John Austin's Coyotes during the 1999 season, played in eight NFL seasons, including four with the Cleveland Browns (2000-03) where he served as a team captain. White had 1,423 yards rushing and nine nine TDs in his NFL career. In addition, he caught 172 passes for 1,294 yards and two TDs.
His best season in Cleveland was 2003 when he had 470 yards rushing and 452 receiving (63 receptions) with three TDs.
At South Dakota, White set a record with 1,796 rushing yards (now second all-time) and also had 607 yards rushing in 1999 with 19 rush TDs (second most ever at USD) during the 4-7 campaign. One memorable game was a 43-30 loss to SDSU in which White and Josh Ranek traded yards and TDs in a classic match up.
Heiden was the 69th selection of the third round of the 1999 season by the San Diego Chargers. At SDSU he had 112 receptions for 1,499 yards and 8 TDs. In NFL, he played three years (1999-2001) with the Chargers and played for Cleveland from 2002-09. Heiden finished with 201 receptions for 1,689 yards and 14 TDs. Released in March of 2010 by Cleveland, his best season was 2005 with 43 receptions for 401 yards with three TDs.
Former Coyotes Josh Stamer (2003-07) and running back Carl Johnson (1957) spent time with the Detroit NFL franchise. Stamer played with the Lions in the 2009 season and Johnson was with Detroit in 1958.
Meierkort closes in on third all-time...USD head football coach Ed Meierkort needs four wins to pass Joe Salem and move into third on the school's all-time coaching wins list...Meierkort is 48-30, .615, at USD while Salem was 51-39-2, .565, from 1966-74. Meierkort has had only one losing season in 7 years at the school. His .615 win percentage. ranks 7th all-time at USD....
Flashy Blount...At USD's media day this week, head coach Ed Meierkort said that USD will try and get the ball frequently into the hands of Coyote WR/KOR Jeremy Blount, who has run a 4.38 40-yard dash (for NFL scouts last spring). The electrifying senior, who is the distant cousin of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount, sits on the verge of setting USD's Kickoff Return record. With 48 yards, he will break the mark of Jimmy Vann (1985-89), who had 1,353 yards on 58 returns. Blount has 57 KOR for 1,306 yards.
Schable trying hand as Seahawk...A.J. Schable, an All-American at South Dakota in 2005, is trying to hook on with the Seattle Seahawks. He previously played with Arizona, playing tight end. Now at 290 pounds, he is trying to make it on the defensive line. At USD, he set career records in sacks with 27.5 while ranking third all-time in tackles for loss with 44.5.
Stiegelmeier Ranks 2nd at SDSU... With his 88-66 (.571) career record, Coach John Stiegelmeier, originally of Selby, S.D., is second on the Jackrabbits' career wins list. Ralph Ginn is the career leader with 113-89-9 record and nine NCC titles. Stiegelmeier's string of eight consecutive winning seasons was snapped with the 5-6 campaign in 2010.