Coach Speak: Baker Steinkuhler

Appropriately, the first player to commit to the Nebraska coaches in the class of 2008 was Baker Steinkuhler. What's more, he didn't waver on his decision even after the coaching changes. Steinkuhler, who has been basically a household name since his freshman year at Lincoln (Nebr.) Southwest, brings with him tremendous ability to Lincoln and the promise of becoming a great collegiate player.

Class A football in Nebraska is competitive. Basically, it stacks up nationally that the best of the best there match the best of the best in other states. Baker Steinkuhler is the latest in that list to be nationally recognized as a top player from the state of Nebraska.

A five star player according to and rated as the #2 offensive guard in the nation, Steinkuhler has been making a mark in Class A ball in Nebraska at Lincoln (Nebr.) Southwest for a while now. In fact, Steinkuhler is the first to start all four years at Southwest.

"He's the only kid that I have ever had start for me as a freshman," Head Coach Mark King said. "He started on the offensive line and that is pretty amazing. That's in Class A alongside some pretty amazing players."

It's tough to say what that one thing is that Steinkuhler has or does that makes him great. Coach Mark King says that it's probably a combination of three things that makes Steinkuhler so special.

"I think that he has three things going for him. He has what God gave to him like his height and his size. It's amazing. That's where you start.

"From there you go to his work ethic and honest to goodness he is second to none. Whether it's the season, the off-season, on the field or in the weight room he is just going. He works as hard as he can.

"Baker played both sides of the ball for us and he rarely came off the field. That is just incredible for a guy his size and it speaks to the condition that he gets himself in as a player.

"The third thing is that he is a great kid. He has some shyness to him, he doesn't look for the limelight and would prefer to not be in it, if he had it his way he would just play football. He'd just not assume to have to answer all the questions.

"That's kind of too bad because he is such a great kid. If you talk to him he just says great things because that's just how he truly feels. You put those three things together and that is what he has. He has the God given ability, the great work ethic and he is a great kid with great character."

Even five-star players have areas that they will need to work on to get ready to play in college. It's not easy for Coach King to say what that one area is because it's still a question about which side of the ball Steinkuhler might play.

"That's hard to say because we don't know which side of the ball he's going to play. I think that if he's going to play defense, he's a real long-levered guy and sometimes when you play interior defense that smaller, choppier steps are the way to go.

"If he's going to play offense at Nebraska then what he might have to work on might come back to pass-blocking. That's just something that we didn't do a tremendous amount of in high school and he might need to work on his pass-pro. It will depend on wherever he lands."

If Coach King had to say which side of the ball Steinkuhler would play then he would say that he has always felt like he would play offense. However, Steinkuhler has skills that translate well to defense. In the end, Coach King is happy it's not his choice.

"I have always kind of thought that he should be an offensive tackle. He has such long arms and that would help him in pass blocking. You hate to have him play offense in a way because he has a motor that runs.

"That's what a guy on defense really needs to be a great player, they need to have that motor. I am glad it's their decision because I would want to play him on both sides of the football."

Baker is of course the son of Dean Steinkuhler and the brother of current Husker Ty. Coach King also coached Ty at Southwest and says that there are definitely similarities between the two and one distinct difference.

"They are very similar people when it comes to practice time. They are both going to go extremely hard. Baker just has a little height over Ty. Ty had to work really hard to get up to 280.

"It's finally starting to come together for Ty and he really looks amazing. I think that this could be Ty's year and I am just excited as heck for him. He's finally, to me, looks perfect. He looks into his body.

"Then again, Baker is about 290 right now. Ty coming out of high school was more of a linebacker, a big linebacker, where Baker has always been an O/D lineman. The way that they approach practice seems genetic because they approach it the same. Biggest difference is just some height."

Southwest has produced some talent that has gone onto Nebraska recently and Coach King still talks to a lot of them. All of them have good things about the changes that have come with the football coaches and the strength and conditioning staff.

"The only things that I know is what the kids that I have had play for me tell me. Next year I will have six kids that played for me on their roster. The only thing that I know is the kids that I talk to have smiles on their faces.

"They really, really like what is going on. All of those guys are not afraid of hard work. If anyone is going to be unhappy it's going to be the guys that don't want to work that hard. These guys are working their tails off and they like that.

"They want to win and they know what it's going to take to get that done. Just speaking from my experience and talking to my kids I couldn't be happier. I think that it's a great time and great things are going to happen for Nebraska football."

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