Baker Breaks State Record

JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- The state of North Carolina has a new all-time rushing leader, and his name is Toney Baker. With a 23-yard scamper to the left side of the line at the 2:06 mark of the first quarter, Baker eclipsed T.A. McClendon's mark of 9,038 yards. With 284 yards on 28 carries and four touchdowns, the Ragsdale tailback finished the game with 9,286 yards for his career.

"It feels really good to finally get this out of the way so the team doesn't have this to distract them anymore," Baker said of the landmark record. "It feels great to have accomplished something like this because it is a testament to my team, my coaches and foremost my family. I thank God that it happened and is behind all of us now."

Baker's dad, Tony Baker, who played football at ECU and with the Cleveland Browns, responded in an equally upbeat fashion to his son's accomplishment.

"We're all just so proud of him," the elder Baker said. "It was very exciting and very nerve-wracking. It is great to have it out of the way so we can all focus on what is important for this season, playing well and hopefully making the state championship. That is the goal."

With the hullabaloo over the state rushing mark behind them, the Bakers now have two major items left on their pre-college plate: the rest of his senior season at Ragsdale and the process of deciding where he will attend college. To that end, they will be traveling to N.C. State October 23 and to Virginia October 30 and then evaluating the paradigm of his recruitment.

"Once we get back from Virginia I think he may possibly narrow it down to three teams," Baker's father said. "I want him to make his own decision, and I want to make sure he knows that is not just lip service. He will not be one of those kids that will ever come back to me and says ‘Dad, I went to this school because that is where you wanted me to go. We will support whatever he wants to do."

Baker himself has become extremely skilled at being non-committal, and he remained so while answering questions while surrounded by autograph seekers. Indeed, it has become somewhat of a melee around Baker after each game with dozens of children (and their parents, too) seeking his attention in addition to members of the media.

"Everything has been going well with the recruiting process and I still don't know what I'm going to do," Baker said. "I am just enjoying some great football games right now and relaxing about the rest of it. Every game that I've seen has been a great game, has come down to the wire, so that has been fun."

While it is almost impossible to draw a substantive statement about where Baker is leaning from either father or son, the elder Baker did express a bit of an opinion about which conference he would like his son to play in. Even that piece of information drew an almost imperceptible shake of the head from his wife, Sadie, albeit with a smile on her face.

"Sadie is over there shaking her head, and it is certainly still five teams with N.C. State, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia Tech but I will say I'd like to see it be the ACC," Tony Baker said.

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