Headed into the Shrine Bowl, RB Toney Baker of Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, NC may have been the most highly decorated of all the prep stars on hand. A consensus all-american and five-star prospect, Baker's humility and quiet demeanor is as impressive as his ability to break tackles and rack up touchdowns. Pack Pride talked with Baker about his Shrine Bowl experience and got a thorough breakdown of his top five colleges.
You had a chance to do some things not directly associated with football this week. Talk about your experiences and what it was like visiting the children in the hospital.
"Going to the hospital to see the kids was probably one of the best things I have done. You know, being able to interact with the kids that are not as fortunate as us, I had a great time doing that. And as a team, I know we did a lot for those children. For me to be able to compete in a game like this for these kids makes it even better so I feel pretty good about that."
Does this game give you a chance to measure yourself against some of the region's top players?
"Of course, on the next level it's going to be faster and everybody can play some football just like in this game. Coming from high school to a game like this, you know, everybody can play. This will just help get me ready for the next level."
The All-American Bowl will have several of the nation's top backs on hand. Does it give you any sense of wanting to go out and show you're the top back out there?
"I'm not really going out to prove anything to tell you the truth. I'm just going out to have some fun, finish up my high school career and then see what happens. I'm planning to go out to San Antonio and compete and play hard and just have fun."
How is recruiting going for you now and has it started to wear on you any?
"Recruiting has been pretty good. It's been a little busy lately with people calling and being able to come visit now. A lot of colleges have been coming by my house visiting but it's been going pretty good. I don't let it bother me though because you only get to do this once in your life and I'm just trying to enjoy it."
Has it been an advantage for you having your dad to help you through the process?
"My dad's always been able to help me out no matter what I'm doing, not just football. If I ever have any questions I know he's always there for me to talk to."
Earlier in the year you had talked about narrowing to five schools. Did you narrow it down or are you still looking at the same five?
"Yeah, I'm basically still looking at the same five schools. I am supposed to make a decision at the all-american game and to tell you the truth, I've been to all the schools so many times, that an official visit won't really decide where I'm going to go to school. I've been evaluating these schools for about four years so I'll be alright when I make a decision."
What will be the main factor in your decision?
"Where I feel most comfortable and where the coaches will take care of me. I mean, all five of the schools, I think they meet that."
Can you quickly talk a little about your top five?
Virgina- I love the coaching staff and they have great fans. Coach Price and coach Rocco are recruiting me for Virginia and they're just really good people.
UNC- Carolina is very close to home, probably 45 minutes. They're a program on the uprise and they're going to a bowl game this year. I think they have a lot of talent and a lot of athletes and I think they're getting better.
NC State- NC State, they're right around the corner too and I think they're a big time program. They've got a great defense right now and I think they'll be back to winning next year. I love the facilities there too.
Tennessee- They just have a lot of tradition. They put over a hundred thousand people in that stadium and it's just crazy. They're always known for their tradition and I love the head coach. He'll be there for a long time.
Virginia Tech- They probably have the best fans that I've seen. It's all about football over at Virginia Tech. They have a great tradition and they came out with the ACC title and they'll be good for a while.