LOS ANGELES — America’s walk-on got up Friday morning to find a slew of new Twitter followers waiting for his next social media move. But one in particular blew C.J. Baird’s mind straight to West Covina.
Cash money 👌🏻👌🏻
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) March 23, 2018
“So I post a couple of pictures on Twitter, [including] me holding my three fingers up, and he responded,” Baird, the Michigan forward whose 3-pointer memorably capped a 99-72 bashing of Texas A&M, said of his new pal, former Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel.
“I woke up [the next] morning, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ It’s like, ‘Really? This is amazing.’
“Then he followed me on Twitter. So that was even better.”
The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner turned in his celebrity cameo during Michigan’s already wild March narrative earlier in the week, when he’d yanked on the digital chain of new Wolverines quarterback Shea Patterson:
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) March 18, 2018
And Patterson yanked back:
— Shea Patterson (@SheaPatterson_1) March 19, 2018
Serve, then return:
I GOT A SIGNED JERSEY SAYS THEY AREN’T https://t.co/4fCpZlIbA9
— Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2) March 19, 2018
Fast forward to the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional semifinal between Manziel’s Aggies and Patterson’s Wolverines on Thursday night, where a star-studded crowd at Staples Center included the former A&M signal caller and his wife, Bre.
Enter Baird, a 6-foot-5 freshman walk-on who’d started the season as a student manager, first with a shot off the bench that made him the eighth different Wolverine to drain a trey in the NCAA tourney game:
Moment of the night:
C.J. Baird, walk-on student manager known more for SAT scores than basketball, hits a three.
— Jonathan Cohn (@CitizenCohn) March 23, 2018
— White Bball Pains (@WhiteBballPains) March 23, 2018
The fun continued in the locker room, where Baird led a singing of Hail To The Victors …
Former student manger C.J. Baird knocked down a 3 in a Sweet 16 game tonight, gets to lead Michigan in the fight song. March ain’t bad. pic.twitter.com/B1tXBxW4fW
— Simon Kaufman (@sjkauf) March 23, 2018
… and went on Twitter to call out Johnny Football:
— The Ringer (@ringer) March 23, 2018
“Somebody asked me, ‘What celebrity would you like to shout out?’” Baird recalled with a grin.
“And I saw Johnny Manziel was out there. I was like, ‘Oh, I naturally gotta shout him out.’”
Back atcha, then.
“I think it’s just really cool, like seeing how everybody’s loving every [part] of the celebration,” Baird said. “It even reaches somebody like Johnny Manziel, who’s obviously, like, a worldwide phenomenon. And it’s really cool.”
The 25-year-old Manziel had business elsewhere in SoCal earlier Thursday, having worked out for 13 NFL clubs at the University of San Diego’s pro day.
The first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2014 — who cut him after two seasons that were deep in off-the-field headlines but short on victories — says he’s been working out for the last three weeks in San Diego with quarterback whisperer George Whitfield to try and get his football career back on the rails.
“The little things really stand out this late in the year,” Baird said. “And it makes you realize how you kind of have to have an attention to detail in everything you do. And really appreciate the moments that come towards you.”
You appreciate the retweets, too.
“A little time to shout out a little walk-on shooting a 3 like that,” Baird chuckled. “That was really cool. That was really cool.”