Special Night for Baker

Redshirt senior running back Toney Baker, who will start at running back tonight against South Carolina after missing nearly two years of action because of a knee injury, sat down with the media this week to discuss his return to the field.

Redshirt senior running back Toney Baker, who will start at running back tonight against South Carolina after missing nearly two years of action because of a knee injury, sat down with the media this week to discuss his return to the field.

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How difficult was it to stand on the sideline the last two years while being hurt?
That was probably the most difficult part for me, just watching my teammates go out there and play and knowing you can't contribute and help out. That was very hard for me but it just feels that much better being back now.

When did you know you were back during the preseason?
I saw some flashes in the spring but definitely fall camp is when I started feeling burst coming back and the explosive Toney Baker coming back. It felt great just getting better every day.

In what ways can you be a better back this year?
I feel like I'm a much smarter back than I was back in 2007 just because I know more about the offensive line and I'm better in pass protection. In that aspect I feel like I'm a better back.

Did the wait to get back on the field feel like more than two years?
It's a very long time to go but when I look back at it was definitely worth getting healthy. The two years since I kept my mind fresh and kept myself around football flew by. And now it's time to play.

How do you feel like your leg strength is?
It's nothing. It's the same as it was two years ago if not stronger. All the rehab and all that stuff, I feel great. I feel like I didn't have surgery. I feel confident and physically I've proven to myself and my teammates that I'm capable of getting the job done. That's pretty exciting to me.

Are you a vocal leader for this team?
I'm vocal to an extent if I have to be but I'm more of an example type of guy. If I feel like we need to pick it up then they will hear it from me and if they do hear from me they know they need to pick it up.

Do the players get into the ACC vs. SEC discussion? Is Thursday's game an opportunity for NC State to do something for the conference?
I definitely do. It would be great to get some respect from the ACC and the other conferences. From what I hear I don't think they respect us to much as a team and since we're in the ACC as well.

That's something we're going to have to fight for. I don't want to talk bad about the SEC but South Carolina in general; I don't feel like they respect us. Coach [O'Brien] has said that. The SEC in general I think they feel like they have something over us but we'll have to show off on Thursday.

Does a Thursday night game have a different feel to it?
It does. The Monday night football of college, it's a big deal. It's great for our program and university as well so we just have to show that we come to play and attack early.

Did you watch Thursday night games when you were being recruited?
Oh yeah. I watched Thursday night football when I was being recruited. It's big time football. It doesn't get any bigger than that, under the lights.

Are you excited about playing with Russell Wilson for the first time?
Yes, that's very exciting for me. A player of his caliber and what he brings to the table is just going to open up everybody's success. That's tough for a college defense to account for when you have a guy who can throw the ball like that and take off and be a huge playmaker, its tough – especially when you're on this level. I'm looking for Russell to do some great things. He will definitely open up our offense.


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