Last season, Jordan Brewer was playing against the likes of Dyersburg State and Wabash Valley College. The junior outfielder transferred from Lincoln Trail College, a community college of 1,031 people based in rural Robinson, Ill. — to Michigan last year. The expectations on paper would usually be low for a player making the jump from JUCO to a major Division I program, but coach Erik Bakich had other ideas in the preseason.
“A junior college player named Jordan Brewer can play outfield and infield and first base,” Bakich said in February. “Throws left handed, hits right handed, but one of our most explosive athletes. Just a very dynamic player. He’s made probably the most improvements of anyone probably from the fall until now so he’s going to be pushing for playing time as well.”
Brewer has exceeded expectations thus far. He leads the Wolverines in batting average, RBIs, stolen bases and is tied for the lead in home runs. Defensively, Brewer has been utilized in both the infield and outfield and truly lives up to his versatility. At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, he possesses a rare combination of power and speed that makes him dangerous all over the field.
And Brewer hasn’t been phased at all by the transition from toiling in JUCO to the bright lights of the Big Ten.
“You know you dream of this as a little kid,” Brewer said. “This is just a replay of a little kid, you’re dreaming of this situation, of being in this situation. So, this is nothing new. JUCO only had twenty people and then you come out here to 1,100 people. It’s just cool to see everyone out here supporting and seeing my family out here. It’s just awesome to see everyone come out.”
Brewer is leading off the field as well. He has focused on helping those in the special needs community. He suggested the teammates participate in Night To Shine, an event run by the Tim Tebow Foundation, which provides a prom experience for those with special needs around the world.
On his own, Brewer brought the idea to the locker room and his teammates agreed to participate. His maturity off the field helps bring perspective to the locker room. His involvement in the Ann Arbor community is unusual, especially for someone who transferred in, and it’s something Bakich feels his team needs to have.
“(Jordan Brewer is) so much more than baseball,” Bakich said. “This is a kid that brought the Night To Shine event to our team. He’s a guy that’s very invested in the community and giving back.
“That was one of the coolest things that our program has ever done and that’s something he brought. He brings that selflessness and just that great spirit out here every day. He’s always got a smile on his face.”
It’s hard to quantify just how much Brewer means to this team. His charisma and playmaking on the field have made the difference in several games this season — a grand slam against Manhattan, two diving catches against Minnesota and many more “web gem” plays. The way Brewer has embraced this team and been embraced makes it seem like he’s been here for all three years of his college career.
“He’s a positive life-force,” Bakich said. “He’s an energy-giver. He brightens up a room, he brightens up a locker room, he brightens up a dugout, he’s just fun to be around.
“So yeah, his transition’s been good.”