Game Report: Toney Baker

JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- A day after Hurricane Isabel wreaked havoc throughout the state of North Carolina and on Ragsdale's turf, top 2005 UNC target Toney Baker treated Southeast Guilford little better to the tune of 316 yards on 17 carries and four touchdowns.

While the statistics are undeniably impressive, the 5-10, 218-pound Baker doesn't claim all of the credit for his success or the team's 55-16 victory.

"I thought we ran pretty well," he said. "We were clicking on both sides of the ball, and we opened it up a bit in the second half and that got me going."

Baker, widely considered to be one of, if not the, top North Carolina player in the class of 2005, again demonstrated why. With a combination of power runs through the interior of the line, toss sweeps around the corner, and pinpoint cuts in the open field, Baker was the dominant force in the game.

The only facet of his game that wasn't prominently displayed on was an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but he ably caught multiple kicks without incident. Only one kick was returned, and for only two yards, as Baker slipped and fell on the soggy turf. The slip was soon forgotten, however, as Baker turned the next play into an 84 yard touchdown that took the crowd's breath away.

Would Baker like to have a chance to showcase his hands and route-running abilities more often?

"Yeah, I'd love to," he said. "I want to be an all-purpose back and succeed in all areas of the game."

Ragsdale's extremely talented front (including 2004 Duke commitment Jonathon Terry) has highlighted the importance of a skilled offensive line to the Baker family. Does the presence of widely respected OL coach Hal Hunter at UNC have an impact upon their thinking?

"Yes, yes it does," Baker's father, Tony said. "He has a good line here, and to have the opportunity to play for a good college, with a good line of 300 plus pound athletes, it will give his talent a chance to shine even more."

While holes to run through are important, it is the ability to turn six yard runs into gains of 23, 20, 26, 21, 34, and 84 yards, as Baker did Friday, that makes him such a coveted prospect. His open field vision, and spectacular decision making skills, are the difference between a back with "upside" and a back, like Baker, seemingly ready to play and contribute now at the next level.

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Check out IC's Toney Baker profile.


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