Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson entered the locker room of the Texas Rangers’ Triple-A team last week and based on his Instagram, his baseball cohorts are quite the jokers.
The video from his social media account showed his No. 2 Rangers jersey hanging in the locker along with a number of copies of the Ohio State logo and images of Brutus Buckeye.
Patterson, who transferred to Michigan from Ole Miss in December and will be competing for the starting job when camp opens on Friday, was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 39th round of the Major League Baseball draft last month.
He was drafted as a third baseman but has not played organized baseball since his junior year in high school. He was signed to a six-year contract, but he will be focused on Michigan during his two years of eligibility.
The Rangers last week assigned him to Round Rock, Texas, to work with the Triple-A team. He took batting practice and will participate in other activities, according to a story in the Austin American-Statesman.
“The Rangers sent me here to be around these guys, learn from the veterans and pick up anything I can,” Patterson told the paper. “Oh, man, it’s a humbling and awesome experience. It’s remarkable to see how hard they work, how much they put into their craft.”
Patterson described himself to the American-Statesman as an “athletic” baseball player with “quick hands, good feet, very coachable. I’m more of a line-drive hitter, but I got some power there.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking last week at the Big Ten media days, has absolutely no problem with Patterson’s baseball flirtation. In fact, he seems delighted Patterson can explore that option.
“I saw him get drafted. There wasn’t any communication before that,” Harbaugh said. “Saw him get drafted, texted him and said congratulations. That’s really cool. I started thinking about it nostalgically, 'Hey, who were some of the best two-sport players the game has ever known?’ I started going that way.
“I was at a football camp when he got drafted and for an hour or so was just thinking about that. Then got refocused. Dave DeBusschere, Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders. Dave Winfield — he was drafted in three sports, right? I was happy for him. Congratulated him on it. Since then, I know he’s going to work out with the team, that kind of thing. Cool. I wouldn’t hold a guy back from that. Wish I was good enough to do that.”
Patterson joked about the special Ohio State-themed greeting he received upon his arrival.
“Yeah, they played a joke on me when I walked into the clubhouse,” Patterson told the American-Statesman. “I get to the locker, and there are about 40 Ohio State pictures, logos, memorabilia, stuff with Coach (Urban) Meyer, Brutus the Buckeye and all the rest. It was a very warm welcome. Actually, it was hilarious, and I had a good laugh out of that one.”
When camp opens Friday, Patterson will be part of a quarterback competition with Brandon Peters, who started for Michigan late last season; Dylan McCaffrey, a redshirt freshman last season; and early enrollee Joe Milton.
Patterson started 10 games at Ole Miss, including the first seven last season before suffering a torn PCL in his right knee. He completed 166 of 260 attempts for 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2017. He also started the final three games during his freshman season in 2016 and threw for 880 yards and six touchdowns. He left Ole Miss having thrown for 3,139 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He practiced with the Wolverines during the spring not knowing until late April that he would be eligible to play this fall. The consistent takeaway about Patterson’s game from his new teammates’ perspective is his ability to keep plays alive.
“Extending plays is my best attribute,” Patterson told the American-Statesman. “I watch a lot of film on Aaron Rodgers. His play-making ability is unreal.”
Michigan running back Karan Higdon was asked last week during Big Ten media days how good Patterson is.
“You’ll have to find out,” Higdon said, smiling. “I will say he can definitely keep plays alive.”
Michigan fifth-year senior defensive end Chase Winovich praised Patterson last week while in Chicago for Big Ten media days.
“They both impress me a lot, Shea and Brandon or Brandon and Shea — I don’t want to put anyone first,” Winovich said. “Because he’s new, I’m going to comment on (Patterson).
“I think Shea has done an awesome job. I saw him throw this one pass where it was — I played quarterback in high school, so I know elementary levels of playing quarterback, mechanics and throwing the ball down field. There was one play he rolled out and I was on the sideline, and he threw the pass. It felt like Chicago. The wind was blowing in the opposite direction, but he threw a 30-40 yard pass down the field, and it was right on the money. It wasn’t the prettiest ball because of the wind, but at that point I knew this kid is something special. He was able to consistently do that. That was early on in spring. He definitely caught my eye after he was able to do that. He’s just so smooth.”
But Winovich wasn’t about to give all his love to Patterson.
“His pocket presence — he doesn’t have what it takes to shake me,” Winovich said, smiling. “I love Shea, so I can chirp.”