Tuesday, Allatoona High School (GA) tight end prospect Tanner Baker received word that he had received an offer from the BYU Cougars. The offer came unexpectedly and made his day an exciting one for one specific reason.
“I grew up a big BYU fan so I’ve always followed BYU football,” said Baker. “I was told to call BYU and so I did. I spoke to the recruiting coordinator (Tevita Ofahengaue) and we got to know each other for a little bit. He was like, ‘We would like to extend the offer to you.’ At first I was surprised and shocked! I couldn’t believe this was happening. It was a great experience for me.”
Following the 2015 prep season season, the Baker family said goodbye to Moorpark, California and hello to Acworth, Georgia. This upcoming season, Baker will be making plays as a Buccaneer on the talent-rich roster of Allatoona High School.
“I’m actually not at Moorpark High School anymore and played there last year,” said Baker. “My dad got a new job so we moved out here to Georgia. I’m now at Allatoona High School out here in Cobb County. They actually won the 5-A state championship out here before I moved out here.”
He plans to continue playing both ways at Allatoona High School if possible.
“The whole defensive line graduated pretty much, so I’m trying to earn a spot there,” said Baker. “I’m just trying to learn all the stuff and everything. I looked on the schedule and the teams out here. There is really good competition out here.”
The 2,212 mile move from Moorpark to Acworth has been quite the adjustment for this one time Southern California product. However, he’s learning to adjust.
“It is very different,” said Baker with a chuckle in his voice. “The academics put me in a better spot out there, but it is a lot different out here for sure. The people are much different, their actions are different, the climate is different, and the food is different. I actually like the food out here.”
Currently a junior in high school, Tanner Baker comes in at 6-4, 230-pounds. He has good side and a frame to add weight if needed to go along with his athleticism.
“I’m 6-4, 230-pounds and I play tight end and defensive end,” said Baker. “I’m a really good blocker and I have really good hands. I also have good speed. At the D-end spot I’m a really good pass rusher. My speed comes in handy there coming off the edge. I know how to get to the quarterback and I have really good hand work.”
Last year at the defensive end position, Baker led Moorpark High School in sacks. Although he’s a two-way player, BYU has offered Baker to play tight end in Ty Detmer’s revamped offense.
“I’ve heard a lot about Ty Detmer,” said Baker. “It’s really hard to put in words. BYU wants me to play there and they’re looking to rebuild the tight end position. They were talking how back in the days of the LaVell Edwards’ offense, the tight end played a big part. There were All-American tight ends that played there on a consistent bases and they’re looking to bring that back. That’s what’s exciting.”
Aside from being LDS, there is a connection between the Baker family and BYU, especially when it comes to the tight end position. Tanner’s father served with former BYU tight end, and two-time NFL Pro Bowler, Chad Lewis in the mission field.
“My dad knows Chad Lewis,” said Baker. “They actually served their missions together in Taiwan. They didn’t serve together as companions, but they served in the same mission together and know each other really well.”
Although Baker didn’t receive the BYU offer while playing at Moorpark High School, he is the second prospect who have attended that school to receive one. His best friend Bentley Hanshaw, who is also a tight end, has also received a scholarship from BYU recently.
“Bentley Hanshaw is one of my best friends,” said Baker. “His dad Tim played at BYU back in the days. They’re pretty much the reason why I started playing football. It was hard for me to leave them for Georgia, but we keep in contact and pretty much talk every weekend. We talk about our offers and who we get them from and everything.”
After Baker received his BYU offer, he called best friend Bentley Hanshaw back in California to tell him all about it.
“When I got my BYU offer I instantly texted and called him right after,” said Baker. “He was really happy for me and surprised too! He was like, ‘Wow, we could actually play college football together.’ It would be really cool to reunite with him in college.”
If both Baker and Hanshaw commit to BYU, the program would have three tight end commits for the 2017 class. San Clemente High School tight end Isaac Rex has already committed to BYU.
“I’ve heard of Isaac Rex and Bentley [Hanshaw] was actually talking about him,” said Baker.
“My top three are BYU, Navy, and SUU right now,” Baker said. “Navy’s head coach [Ken Niumatalolo] is a total stud.”
Baker plans on making a final decision after the summer. He wants to see if any other opportunities comes his way first prior to making a final decision prior to his senior year.
“Yeah, I was thinking of making a final decision my senior year,” he said. “I was thinking at the beginning of my senior year, so I can see if other opportunities pop up. I just want to wait and see what happens over the summer and see how things play out.”