When observers of the Michigan high school scene looked ahead to the backfield talent in the 2009 class at the start of the season, the conversation started with Battle Creek Central’s Larry Caper. Afterward followed a long pause. That pause existed because of the perceived gap between Caper and any other ball carrier in junior crop. Now that the regular season is over, that pause no longer exists. Oak Park High junior Edwin Baker has narrowed the gap significantly thanks to a fantastic (albeit injury-shortened) campaign.
“My sophomore year I was kind of nervous because it was my first games in high school… my first year,” Baker recalled. “I told myself at the end of the year, ‘don’t think… don’t worry about nobody says… just do me. Keep my mind focused and don’t worry about what nobody is saying. Don’t worry about what goes on around you.’
That increased focus allowed Baker to explode out of the blocks in 2007 to the tune of 1295 yards and eight touchdowns on 113 carries (11.46 yards per carry) through six games. That production came while splitting time with senior teammate and good friend Joevall Hoseay.
“I knew that was going to happen like that,” Baker said regarding sharing the workload. “(Oak Park High Coach Tim Hopkins) always told us that we were going to be the heart and soul of the team. Josie is my boy and he’s a senior. I actually expected him to get more carries than me. I was surprised when it was vice versa.”
More attention came Baker’s way as a result of his on-field success, both from the media and from the opposition. Only one of those, however, made his life more difficult.
“I’ve always had a little bit of attention my whole life, so I just kind of blocked (the media attention) out,” he said. “I noticed it but I didn’t. I did notice how other teams started focusing on me a lot though. They stacked the box. They made it so I had to do things that I never thought I could do. I had to break a lot of tackles. If I had to compare myself to somebody, it would be Emmitt Smith. Everybody says I run like them.”
Attention from the collegiate ranks picked up as well. A number of programs made the effort to get an early jump in his recruitment, but none have completely taken the plunge just yet.
Although very interested in the in-state schools, Baker will be keeping an eye on the southern schools as well. He has been fond of one program for quite some time.
“Tennessee,” responded Baker when asked what school he grew up watching. “Ever since I was little. When I saw the endzone I said, ‘I’ve got to go there.’ I like the football down south. Down there, there’s nothing speed. I love speed and power.”
With well over a year to go before he has to make a decision, Baker is in no rush to choose which college he will attend. Even if all the schools on his list of favorites offered him scholarships tomorrow, he would still delay making a choice so he could research the programs more thoroughly.
“I wouldn’t wait too long but I would wait,” he said. “I wouldn’t go out and just sign right away. I want to see what lineups they’ve got. How many backs do they have? I want to play right away. I don’t want to redshirt. Plus I want to see what the environment is like.”
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Baker in the coming weeks.