RB, Toney Baker: Will he be number one?

He's the odds-on favorite to be the number one ranked running back in the country when The Insiders' rankings come out in approximately two weeks. That means two things. One, he will have all those stars by his name, prompting drool collectively hitting the floors under computers around the recruitnik community. And two, every school wants him. Does your team have a shot or are you simply wasting saliva? We caught up with Toney to find out.

50 offers. Well, approximately, give or take a couple. That's about 50 Division 1-A schools that are sending you letters (including one written offer), have called relentlessly over May, have visited, talked to your coaches and been basically hounding you.

Ok, hounding is a little much and you certainly wouldn't hear Toney Baker say it's anything close to that. He knows what kind of position he's in. "It's been pretty crazy." Baker stated. "But, it's better this than nothing at all. I'm pretty fortunate right now."

Fortunate? Maybe, but based on his 3,400+ yard performance last year, for most this would be a no-brainer. Toney being named Freshman of the Year and making the All-State team his Sophomore and Junior seasons certainly doesn't hurt that lofty reputation as well.

The kid's good, Period.

And modesty aside, Baker himself sees a little of what coaches see in him as to the reason for his dramatic success. "Coaches say that I can do pretty much anything out on the field." Toney said. "But, what I hear more about is my vision. I can see the field really well and I've got the speed to avoid it or if I have to go through them, that's what I will do."

The 5'10" 218 lbs. back seems already ideal for the next level. And the 4.45/40 means he's just as fast as he is potentially physical. That versatility gives Baker every option in the book when confronting tacklers on the field. "To be honest, I don't even think about whether I am going to go around them, through them or whatever." Toney said. "It's all instinct for me. I just run the ball and sometimes I have to look at the film to figure out what I did."

What Baker plans on doing this year is first and foremost, win a state title. There is the matter of a certain record though, that Toney wouldn't mind taking down along the way. The current state record for career rushing yards in North Carolina is 9,038 held by current N.C. State back, T.A. McClendon.

Based on Baker's performance last year, that would mean he's about half a season away from busting that mark. And should Toney continue that torrid pace, Baker could end up the second all-time leading rusher in high school football history, the top spot being held by Ken Hall (11,232 yards - Sugarland, TX - 1953).

Records are records though and for Baker's future, they aren't going to help him decide which college he ultimately wants to attend. In fact, to ask him now, he's not even sure what teams he is looking at, much less who's going to be in his final 5 or 10. "I don't know." he said. "I haven't thought much about it, because it's a lot of great schools and I really haven't sat down and thought about any one team or group of teams. I'm just trying to keep everything as open as possible."

Toney does plan to visit many of the schools in fairly close proximity, such as N.C. State, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Baker did state though that, that doesn't make them favorites. "They are close, so if I can, I will try to make unofficial visits there or maybe official visits. I am not sure right now."

In fact, Toney isn't concentrating on anything right now other than continuing the long off-season before his final year of prep-ball. His dad (Toney Sr.) is sure however of just where this young star will be. "When someone asks me where he's going, I just say ‘back to Ragsdale'." the elder Baker said of Toney Jr.'s high school. "That's all I can tell them because it's early and there's just so much going on."

"So, if you ask me or anyone asks me, that's all I will say. Toney's going back to Ragsdale."

Look for the rankings to come out in approximately 2 weeks and see just where this Ragsdale star shows up.



Steve Ryan can be reached at SteveRyan@bigredreport.com or 402-730-5619

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