What Baker means to Oregon

Oregon received an early Christmas present on Friday when Bellevue (Wash.) ATH, and top Northwest prospect, Budda Baker tweeted that he had given a verbal commitment to play college football for the Ducks.

Baker chose Oregon over USC, UCLA and hometown Washington, all schools he had connections to in some way. The decision comes on the heels of his November official visit to Eugene, the only one he ended up taking before Friday.

It's been no secret how coveted of an athlete Baker is. As Scout.com National Analysts Greg Biggins and Brandon Huffman summarized in Biggins' commitment report, his ability to be a playmaker on either side of the ball and on special teams make him a natural fit at Oregon.

Having seen him in person at The Opening, Baker was definitely one of the stand outs in my eyes and not just because of his speed. It was his decision making and his ability to put himself in the right position to make a play on a consistent basis that demonstrated how gifted of a player he was against the Top 150 prospects in the nation.

Against bigger and stronger athletes, he was able to adjust to the matchups and still make plays. He demonstrated a high football IQ, in addition to his physical abilities, and that's why landing him is a very big deal for Oregon.

Baker mentioned in interviews with eDuck.com that the Ducks coaches will give him the option of which side of the ball he wants to play on. Interestingly enough, his former teammate at Bellevue, Myles Jack, just won Freshman Pac-12 Player of the Year on offense and defense at UCLA. Baker has the potential to be a playmaker on either side and follow in Jack's footsteps.

But, whether he ends up on offense or defense, the Ducks have at least ensured that they won't have to game plan to stop him in the future. While Texas cornerback Arrion Springs and California running back Royce Freeman were touted as huge commitments (and they are), Baker's may be the biggest because he's a local prospect and adds a wrinkle to the system that no one else in the class can claim.

Additionally, the Ducks coaches can benefit further from this by touting the current strength of their class to uncommitted prospects that are still on the fence as National Signing Day draws closer.

They are already loaded at defensive back, but still have a chance to land Louisiana CB Mattrell McGraw and California prospect Juju Smith, another two-way player and the top prospect out West. Both were impressed during their official visits and Oregon will have to out-duel UCLA for both of them, just like they did with Baker.

After the chaos of last season, the year's recruiting class has come together smoother than anyone could've anticipated. With a maximum of eight spots left to fill, it's likely the Ducks take fewer than that. Anything else that happens with the class is really icing on the cake, outside of maybe landing four-star linebacker Jimmie Swain IV.

For that, head coach Mark Helfrich, John Neal, and the rest of coaching staff deserve praise. November may not have been the easiest stretch for the staff after stumbling to a 2-2 finish, but they are setting up for the future in a big way this December.

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