Baxter will be one to watch in 2011

2011 Brookland Cayce (Cayce, SC) standout Jacob Baxter is expected to be one of, if not the top fullback prospects in the country next recruiting cycle. "Little Tebow," as he is referred to by his teammates, recently attended the star studded Friday Night Lights camp in Gainesville. We had the chance to talk extensively with Jacob on FNL, his early recruitment, and the upcoming season.

Below is an in-depth question and answer session with Baxter:

GamecockAnthem: Jacob, I know you were able to make the Friday Night Lights camp at Florida. What other visits did you make this summer?

Jacob Baxter: I went to UNC, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, and Florida

GamecockAnthem: What were some impressions of the various schools you have visited?

Jacob Baxter: I've been impressed with different things at each school. With UNC, the campus is pretty cool; kind of cozy, down home feeling. Georgia Tech, I just like the coaches and the fact that they like big running backs. They also keep three running backs in the game all the time with their option offense. I grew up a South Carolina fan and have always wanted to come running out on the field at (Williams-Brice Stadium); I know a lot of the underclassmen players from the combines and camps. I'm pretty tight with Cliff Matthews and Aramis Hillary, too, so that's a big plus with USC.  Florida was amazing; I wasn't really impressed with the area of town around the campus, but the campus itself was great and the stadium and facilities were great.

GamecockAnthem: Can you give me your thoughts on what happened at FNL, how it was organized, what you did, etc...?

Jacob Baxter: Well, it was honestly not different from any other combine type of camp; my dad has been working Nike camps for years and doing his own combine for years, so I was pretty used to seeing the type of flow they had. We signed in, got our shirts, headed out for 40's. They separated the defensive and offensive players for the dynamic warm up, went to skills after that, and then one-on-one's. I worked out at running back – they really don't have specific workouts for fullback types at these things, but I can hang with the best of the running backs. Basically, the running backs did some skills and then went one-on-one with the linebackers; we would come out of the backfield on various pass patterns – swings, outs, and they would try to pick us up in coverage.

GamecockAnthem: Who were some players that impressed you there?

Jacob Baxter: There were some great players there; I was impressed with Jeff Luc. He's a freaking monster at linebacker; he's got the size, strength, and speed.  Ronald Powell is a freak.  I didn't get to see him in one-on-ones because he was with the receivers, but in skills, he was amazing. I'd say he and Luc were the best athletes in camp.

GamecockAnthem: What are your most recent testing numbers?

Jacob Baxter: Well, my most recent measurements were at Florida's camp; I was 6-1, 250 with a 4.78 forty.  My forty time was a little slow, but everyone's was. There was a lot of sand on the field.  My last shuttle was in May, and I ran a 4.29 at the All-State Combine.  My bench press is 275 and my squat is 400; those were as of July. I think my forty time will come way down; I've been doing nothing but strength training since spring, and our coach has been trying to put weight on us. I play around 235-240, and I'll start transitioning to some speed and agility workouts with my trainer, Josh Ortegon.

GamecockAnthem: How do those compare to previous testings?

Jacob Baxter: Well, like I said, the forty time is a little slower than normal; I can usually hit a high 4.6 to low 4.7, but that's not a big deal. My strength is a lot better now. I hit the 1000 lbs. club this spring, and my goal is to get that 1,400 lbs. club next spring or summer.  

GamecockAnthem: Do you have any more stops planned this summer?

Jacob Baxter: Not really; I'm at the beach until Saturday, and we sign in for our team camp Sunday. We've got a week of camp and then we start scrimmaging next Friday.

GamecockAnthem: I know USC and Georgia Tech are very interested in you, who else has had contact?

Jacob Baxter: Well, Georgia Tech seems to be very interested. They like my size, speed, and the fact I'm pretty physical. I've got great hands so they like that.  North Carolina has shown a good bit of interest. They like to recruit big athletes and move them to positions where they need them.  Vanderbilt and Kentucky both like me as an athlete.  Georgia has shown a little interest.  I was invited to Tennessee and Clemson for junior days, but didn't go to either one of them. Some other schools have shown a lot of interest – Buffalo, South Florida, Central Florida.  

GamecockAnthem: What position are you being recruited for by those schools?

Jacob Baxter: Most schools like me as a fullback.  Georgia Tech likes me as a three-down back in their offense.  Georgia as a fullback.  UNC as a fullback, but they want to see some film of me at linebacker. I'm supposed to get some reps at the MIKE (linebacker position) this season.

GamecockAnthem: Who seems most interested in you right now?

Jacob Baxter: Without a doubt, Georgia Tech seems most interested.  They've got me listed as a priority recruit.

GamecockAnthem: Are you planning to attend any games this year?

Jacob Baxter: Absolutely; I'm probably going down for the North Carolina game at Georgia Tech; I may go to the Georgia game, too; I've got some friends that play for Georgia.  I'll definitely go to a couple of South Carolina games again this year. I visited for the Tennessee game last year.

GamecockAnthem: I heard you are involved in several offensive formations this year in addition to your Tebow role at QB. Anything you can expound on?

Jacob Baxter: Well, I line up as the 1-back in the spread formation and do a lot out of that.  I'm playing fullback in the I (formation) between the 35's and I'm playing tailback in the I inside the 35's.  I'm lining up in the slot some, too. And I still play quarterback in the Wildcat formation.

GamecockAnthem: When do your two-a-days begin, and how does the season look for your team?

Jacob Baxter: Two-a-days begin at camp on Sunday. As for the season, we've been working hard. I think we've got a good season coming our way. We're bigger, stronger, and faster than last year, and this group of juniors has won at every level we've played at together since we were kids.

GamecockAnthem: Any personal or team goals you have?

Jacob Baxter: My team goals are for us to win the region. Right now, I'm focused on the Airport game because that's our first game. But I believe we can win any game we play; I think you have to think that.  I was raised by a coach, and his thinking was that every time you step onto the field, you should expect to win.  I've got two personal goals; one is to better my average per carry. Last season, I averaged 8.7 yards per carry. I'd like to see that go up this year. My second goal is no turnovers. I haven't turned the ball over in two years on varsity as a running back. The only time I've given it up was at quarterback one time last year... I got hit from behind and kind of separated from the ball.  But if I can accomplish those two things, it will better us as a team.

GamecockAnthem: If you could pick any three schools to play football at in college, who would they likely be?

Jacob Baxter: Well, I grew up a Gamecock fan. I kind of feel like if and when they offer, my recruiting will be over. Other than South Carolina, I like Georgia Tech because of how I fit their offense; I would have to say North Carolina is in there, too.

GamecockAnthem: Who is the best player you have played against?

Jacob Baxter: Well, I quarterbacked my freshman year and went up against Aramis (Hillary). He was really good.  Facing off on defense, though, I'd say Chris Bonds from Richland Northeast. I scrimmaged against Calhoun County, so I went up against Alshon Jeffery and David Sims.  I trucked them, though, on a quarterback draw.

GamecockAnthem: What's your dad looking most forward to, seeing you play on Saturdays, or not having to pay for your grocery bill while you are away?

Jacob Baxter: Haha. I think he's looking forward to seeing me play. He's never missed a game of mine, or my two brothers, in any sport. And I've kind of been his shadow since I could walk. I remember going and watching him work the Nike camps when I was young. It was cool, because I got to meet all of the college coaches back then.

GamecockAnthem: When would you like to make a commitment?

Jacob Baxter: I believe if and when either South Carolina or Georgia Tech offer, I'll commit on the spot. Otherwise, I'll try to get through my junior year and see how it goes with the other schools. I'd prefer not to have to worry about it my senior year.

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