The running back position took a giant hit in the offseason when power-back Greg Nwoko went down with a knee injury that is likely to keep him out for the 2011 season. Not only that, but former starting running back Nic Grigsby has moved on as well, leaving the running back position a bit thin in terms of experience.
The lack of experience on the roster should provide the newcomers with an opportunity at playing time early on. The name most Arizona fans are keeping an eye on is local prospect Ka'Deem Carey, but there is another running back from the 2011 recruiting class hoping to make some noise when he arrives on campus.
Jared Baker from Los Angeles Loyola High School will arrive in Tucson next month and hopes to immediately throw his hat into the mix.
Baker put his name on his letter of intent on signing day and has been able to relax ever since.
"Yeah," Baker said. "Pretty much everything has stopped."
Originally, Baker was pursued by former UA assistant Mike Tuiasosopo but after he departed for Colorado, offensive coordinator Seth Littrell took over the duties of pursuing Baker. The Loyola product had a good relationship with Tuiasosopo, but everything has been great since Littrell took over.
"It's the same," Baker said. "I loved Coach Tui, but it's pretty much the same."
With Arizona needing its young players to step in and fill the voids at the running back position, Baker sees a chance to make some noise early. The injury to Nwoko has opened the door for him to compete for playing time right away.
"It definitely seems like that," Baker said "But I am going to work just as hard anyway. But it does seem a little more open. It's a chance for me and Ka'Deem to step up."
Baker played in a different type of offense in high school, so the transition to UA's system could present some challenges.
"It was more of a power running team," Baker said. "But we did run spread a lot."
Baker will have to battle with several other backs and that includes Carey. Baker understands that Carey is a very popular prospect in Tucson considering what he has been able to accomplish since the beginning of his junior season. While everyone expects Carey to come in and have a big career at Arizona, Baker believes he will surprise some people when he gets his shot.
"He is a pretty big presence out there," Baker said. "So I guess I will be surprising some people."
Baker ready to surprise
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