When the professional baseball career of former Great Lakes Loon pitcher Jordan Pratt ended, he wasn't just faced with a life change.
In many ways, he had to go back to where he left off prior to choosing baseball as his first career.
Today, Pratt is a starting wide receiver - as a 28-year-old junior - for the Stanford University football team that will face Michigan State in next week's Rose Bowl. He's also majoring in Atmosphere and Energy Engineering, which, yes, is as difficult as it sounds.
But to get where he is now, Pratt had to go back to the place he was before he'd accepted the Los Angeles Dodgers' offer of a baseball career (and a $175,000 signing bonus) in 2003. Before a 7-year ride through pro ball which included a season with the Loons in 2009.
Going back meant, among other things, that Pratt had to round up his high school transcripts and re-take his SAT.
"I didn't realize your test scores expired," said Pratt. "So, I'm sitting there with a bunch of high school kids - at age 26 - taking my SAT again.
"It was pretty funny, actually."
But Pratt was dead serious about his academic future. Released by Los Angeles in 2010 after developing tendinitis in his throwing arm, Pratt had a clause in his contract which said the Dodgers would pay for his college education when he left baseball.
And make no mistake, Pratt - the salutatorian of his high school class in Independence, Ore. - is all about education.
"My plan was always to go to college first then possibly pursue a professional (baseball) career," he said. "Then the Dodgers offered what they did and I decided to go pro first. But they knew that I always wanted a college education, so that was part of the deal."
Meanwhile, Pratt hadn't played football since high school, but he'd been pretty good at that, too, earning all-state honors his senior year with 76 catches and over 1,000 receiving yards. So, his college search included both the academic aspect as well as the hope he could continue his athletic career.
"I recruited myself basically," he said. "I went through the process of picking schools based first on academics, and their engineering programs in particular, and then I contacted those schools to see if there was some athletic interest.
"There weren't a lot of schools looking for a 26-year-old athlete but a few showed some interest, including Stanford."
Stanford, with its strong engineering program, proved to be the right fit. And his football muscle memory kicked back in.
"There were some things that came back quickly, basic stuff like running under a deep ball, but there were some adjustments, too," he said. "I had to get used to the physical aspect of it again, staying low, adjusting to defenses - things like that."
Pratt's role expanded this season and he's caught 12 passes in Stanford's run-first offensive scheme. He's also earned PAC 12 All-Academic honors - and is having the time of his life.
"It's been a huge transition and there's an unbelievably big time commitment, but I absolutely love it," he said. "My wife (Amy) and I love living out here in Palo Alto and we've met a lot of really cool people."
Pratt also says that it wasn't easy giving up his dream of becoming a big league pitcher. He pitched one game at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2010, but arm issues contributed to his release.
"I had to do a lot of soul searching after that," he said. "I developed some physical problems and that was part of it, because I'd never missed a game in my entire athletic career. I had some offers to play independent ball, but I just decided to go in another direction."
Regardless, Pratt has fond memories of his pro career, including his one season spent with Loons. He was 3-4 as a reliever with a 4.58 ERA and two saves in '09, and helped the Loons make the playoffs for the first time.
"Whenever people ask me about my pro career I always tell them that one of my all-time favorite places is Midland, Michigan," he said. "The people with the team were great, the fans were unbelievable and we had a very good season.
"It was just a great time for me."
He's hoping next Wednesday's Rose Bowl will create similar memories. Stanford (11-2) will face an MSU team that powered its way to a Big Ten championship and boasts one of the nation's premier defenses.
"We've been watching a lot of film on them and they're definitely very stout on defense," said Pratt. "They look very strong in the secondary. It's going to be a big challenge.
"But we want to show that we can out there and mix it up with anyone. We want to show people what we can do, too."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.