If Terrance Owens played baseball, heads might not have turned in response to his being selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
Athletic, tall, and possessing a powerful left arm, he bears the tools of an intriguing prospect.
One minor detail: Owens doesn't play baseball. He hasn't since his freshman year of high school.
Sitting on his couch eating dinner Wednesday, Owens received a phone call from a "random" number, the voice on the other end informed him the San Diego Padres drafted him in the 40th and final round of the draft.
Confusion ensued, not just from Owens, but from his coaches, his teammates, UT fans, and even a reporter or two representing national media outlets. Quite simply, none of this made any sense to anyone.
"I was just surprised," Owens said. "Kind of confused, really."
This will be a good story for him to rehash later in life, as well as serve as fodder for his teammates -- "They're clowning me a little bit" -- but Owens has no interest in truncating his career in football to try a sport that he walked away from after his freshman year at Glenville High School. The presumed starting quarterback for next season, redshirt junior Owens (6-foot-4, 180 pounds) was at UT's practice facility Thursday working on reading defenses, not reading catcher's signals. The Padres, who took him with pick No. 1,215, must sign Owens by Aug. 15 or they will lose his rights.
"I'll be here," Owens said. "Next year too."
A foreshadowing of this unusual event happened Sunday when a Padres scout contacted a UT assistant baseball coach to inquire about Owens. The message made its way to football coach Matt Campbell, who used terms like "shocked" and "speechless" to describe his reaction. Upon further review, San Diego's interest in Owens might not have been all that crazy.
"With his background in baseball, and seeing how live his arm is, you can see where an organization would use a late round draft pick on someone like that," Campbell said.
A message left with a Padres scout was not returned.
Owens considered himself a poor hitter but a good pitcher at Glenville, an urban school in Cleveland known far more for churning out football and track and field standouts than for its baseball team.
"I took it seriously," he said.
Apathy about baseball at the school, along with his desire to achieve a football scholarship, drove Owens away from the dugout. A talented basketball player, he quit that sport after his junior year to go all-in with football.
Owens has played in 19 games at UT, totaling 3,266 passing yards and 31 touchdowns against eight interceptions. In a starting role, he led the Rockets to three straight wins to close last season, a performance that ostensibly catapulted him past senior Austin Dantin. Both are expected to play next season.
With two more seasons to prove himself to NFL scouts, Owens could find himself being drafted in a second sport. Or, who knows, maybe he'll give baseball a shot.
"The future can lead to anything," he said.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.
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