Heels lead for Baker

JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- Toney Baker, the class of 2005 tailback who many rank the top player in the state of North Carolina in his class, has a leader -- and it's UNC.

"Yeah, they are definitely No. 1 right now," Baker said Friday night after a game in which he rushed for 316 yards on a mere 17 carries with 4 touchdowns.

Baker's August 30 unofficial visit to Chapel Hill for the UNC-Florida State game was crucial in the Tar Heels attaining front-runner status with this marquee recruit. Tony Baker, Toney's father, said "UNC was—maybe--in third place before the visit. After, they were in first."

When asked what aspect of the visit led to such a dramatic rise in UNC's status, the elder Baker responded, "The way he was treated. He felt really good, felt respected. They treated him like he was an athlete, which he is. They talked to him, made eye contact, he felt really good about it. To be at a facility like that, at a prestigious school whose reputation carries itself, it is a great place to be and he loved it."

The 5-10, 218-pound Baker is an athlete and a back that a team can build a successful program around. With unreal lateral movement, a bruising frame that sheds would-be tacklers at will, and field vision that leads him to make the right cuts at the right time, he is a keystone recruit.

What led Toney Baker to place UNC at the top of his list?

"Just the way they treated me. I loved the campus, and I felt really comfortable there."

Baker is a polished, mature back. Though only a junior, he has been starting at 3A power Ragsdale since the middle of his freshman season, producing spectacular statistics. He has legitimate 4.45 speed, field vision that leads to the right cut at the right time, and a bruising rushing style that leaves would be tacklers strewn in his wake.

Academics play a major role in this process as well, according to Baker's father.

"They are very important, because to me you can get the opportunity to play in the NFL, which I have had. I let him know I am not a millionaire. I did ok, but because of my education I have a great job at UPS, so I emphasize that. Just because you get a chance to play doesn't mean you don't have to get your education. You can leave football for three reasons: injury, you can get cut, or you can retire. He knows that."

The main competitor for Baker is Virginia Tech at this point, with N.C. State and Virginia also marginally in the mix. How far ahead is UNC? This quote from Baker's father Tony leaves little doubt as to the intensity of the family's feelings for Carolina.

"Carolina, I think, is the school for him. They have some great athletes, great talent. I know there are a lot of schools who would like the opportunity to have Toney, but Toney wants to go to a school where he can contribute and play."


Be sure to check out IC's Toney Baker profile.

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