Thenarse' teammate with offer from Nebraska

Nebraska fans came to know and love Ricky Thenarse. Who wouldn't, the way the guy plays and throw his body around, knowing he'll be doing the same for Nebraska? Well, that area is not without a lot of other talent and on Ricky's own team as well. And the fact that he's Ricky's teammate isn't the only thing that binds these two together. This one also has an offer from the big red.

You don't have to ask Antwoine Bakerabout Ricky Thenarse. He's played with him. As a junior, watching Thenarse play, Antoine saw just what it takes to get recruited by the biggest football programs around.

Not like Baker doesn't play like that himself, but until you see it happen either to yourself or someone else, sometimes you just don't know.

Baker wasn't taking his cue from Thenarse, though, in how he played or even with what kind of intensity. He had all of his own even before he saw Ricky tear it up like he has for Jordan high. From the cornerback position, Baker tore up the competition in his own right last year, notching four interceptions, three sacks, 40 tackles in all, while breaking up a dozen passes as well.

At 6 foot, 1 inches and around 180 pounds, Baker has the size, but as he describes his success, it has to start with how you think before what you can do physically even matters. "You have to figure out what kind of receiver you are facing, if he's just a big guy or if he's someone that has speed and can get down the field," Baker said. "I don't worry too much about how I match up, because there's always ways to beat anyone."

With teammates like Thenarse now graduating and a future in store for him that includes with himself, just four returning starters, Baker could be dreading the year to come. Instead, he's relishing it, because he knows that if his team is to keep up its winning ways and even get better, his game will have to be as good as its ever been. "Pressure is what it is, but if you worry about pressure, you don't have any business being on that field."

"The great players want that pressure and so do I. I want to know that it's up to me to make a play."

One school has already jumped on board in recognizing Baker's ability and potential. The same school where Thenarse is heading to play, is asking Baker if you would like to join his teammate next year. It's not the place Baker thought of when he envisioned getting offered to play the next level. "I didn't know much about them, other than they were one of the teams going after Ricky," Antwoine said. "I still don't know a lot about them, but I will learn more over the next few months."

Baker, much like any other kid in the state of California, has grown up dreaming about USC. The idea of playing for the Trojans, when you see them on TV, that's where you want to be. Baker said that he still thinks like that, but now that he knows he'll have options for the future, he's making sure he keeps all of them as open as he can right now.

"USC would be great, but so would CAL," Baker said of where he'd like to play his college ball. "But an offer is an offer and if Nebraska is the only team to offer me, than I have no problem playing there."

"But I think I am going to have options, so I am not worrying about whether USC offers me or not. I am just looking at what will be best for me."

One thing Baker is looking at is attending law school when he gets to the next level. Inspired one day during a "take a child to work" event held at school, Antwoine got to see the inner workings of what lawyers do and how. That intrigued him, partly because it's about solving problems, cases and doing analysis, something he likes, but some it has to do with where he's from as well.

As we have reported in stories about Thenarse, the neighborhoods of south central Los Angeles are sometimes war zones and that's on a good day. The chances of being shot and killed are just another part of day-to-day life. Like Thenarse, Baker has had to live through that every day of his life, but he said that you can live in any environment in the world, but it's ultimately up to you as to what you want for your future.

"Guns are going off around here every day. I mean, that's just life in this area," Baker said of the "Crip"-controlled area. "You learn how to watch your back and keep your eyes on everything and everyone. You basically just stick to your neighborhood. It's not safe, but it's about as safe as you are going to get around here."

Like Thenarse, sports for Baker is an out, but it doesn't hurt that it's something he simply loves to do. "I love being out there, knowing something is on the line and it's up to me to make a play," he said. "You can't get that with a lot of stuff, but you get that out there. I just love playing the game."

As to Nebraska and seeing himself playing his game there, Baker said that he would learn more about the Huskers over the months, but said that he'll probably learn a lot more when he camps there this summer. Antwoine said that he'd like to attend camp there and USC as well.

Other than that, it's about getting better than he was last year. It's about getting faster, bigger, stronger, knowing he's going to have to do all that just to make up for the loss of so many starters on his side of the ball.

Most kids would dread it, but as you have seen, he's loving it and he can't wait for the next season, his last season to start. "It's going to be a tougher season for us, but that's what makes it good, when you can fight against bigger odds and come out on top."

"I'm enjoying that idea, because we all have to step up, or there's no point in playing the game at all. Everyone is going to have to play like crazy to win."

Baker said aside from the attention he is getting from Nebraska, he's also receiving letters from many of the Pac 10 schools, along with many in-state teams like San Diego State, Fresno State, etc.

Baker currently has a 3.0 GPA

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