For Livonia (La.) three-star defensive end Willie Baker the 2014 football season was a mission of redemption. After breaking his fibula during week 10 of his sophomore campaign, Baker came back determined—and fully healthy—to start his junior year.
“My junior year went well,” Baker told GoBlueWolverine.com. “I’m never satisfied. Like I said, I did pretty well. I came back from my injury and put in the work.”
Baker’s disruptive presence on the defensive line acted was a catalyst for a strong defense that helped the Livonia Wildcats to an undefeated (16-0) season in 2014. Along the way Baker racked up 108 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and six forced fumbles. His comeback would not have been possible without a strong work ethic fueling his recovery. Without that drive Baker believes he would not be the defensive end that he is today.
“I think what really helps me a lot in playing football is my pursuit,” he said. “I love running. I’ve always been a running since I was small. I loved running. I’m probably not the fastest, but I’ve got a lot of wind and I can go for a long time. I’m long winded and I think that really helps me the most as a pass rusher as I do all that running up and down the tackle in front of me.”
These skills have drawn the interest of several colleges across the nation that are in need of a strong pass rusher in the 2016 recruiting class.
“Lately I’ve been hearing a lot from Tennessee,” said Baker. “I hear a lot from them. They hit me up on Twitter a lot and keep building the relationship. I’m hearing good things form Arkansas. I just got the offer today from Michigan. I really like the way they came to me and explained things to me. Louisiana Tech likes me a lot. I get a lot of interest from LSU, but I never got the offer from them. The interest is high, but whatever happens, happens. That’s pretty much my top schools that are really keeping up with me.”
Tennessee and Arkansas both offered Baker within the past two weeks, and recently Michigan joined the group of schools courting him. Earlier today the Wolverines officially extended a scholarship offer.
“Coach Singletary followed me on Twitter and he DM’d me and asked if I was interested in Michigan,” Baker explained. “Now, Michigan… that’s a top college academically and with football. He said [Michigan] wants you to be a part of the 16 class. We really want you to be in there. I fit the defense and everything… having that high motor on the defensive side of the ball. He told me Louisiana is home being from the South, but come and make the North home. I said I wouldn’t mind because Michigan is a very nice college on both sides—academics and sports.”
With a considerable amount of distance between Louisiana and Michigan, Baker was taken aback by the Wolverines’ strong interest.
“I knew of them already but I didn’t know how highly interested they are in me,” said Baker. “They were watching film on me and when they came to me I hadn’t really thought about it. But I said from them having a high academics side and with sports behind it, it’s a very interesting place to go. It’s high on my list when it comes down to choosing my decision for me.”
The Wolverines appear to have made an impact with the sudden offer going out to Baker, although he is “not sure” if he will make a visit to Ann Arbor at this time.