His father passed away before his freshman year in high school, never getting to see his son play a game as a high schooler. But as he grew into a college prospect, Baca maintained his dream of playing for UCLA and staying near his mom.
"Ever since I was younger I used to go to games with my dad so UCLA always had a strong tie with me," said Baca. "I always had that strong tie that I knew that if my top school offered me, I'd commit. So when UCLA offered me, I committed on the spot."
Baca knew going into UCLA's camp on Saturday that if he performed well, he could get an offer. "Basically, the coaches were telling me beforehand that I just needed to work with my position coach and if I performed well, I could possibly come out of there with a scholarship," said Baca. "Coach (Karl) Dorrell said to call him when I got home so I did and he said he had good news and I committed right then and there."
Baca got to work out for offensive line coach Bob Connelly at the camp, and working with him was enough to make an impression mutually. "He's what I was looking for in an O-Line coach," said Baca. "He's not a bigtime motivator. I was talking to him and he said, ‘If I have to get you going, I don't want to coach you'. I want a coach who isn't going to yell to get me going, but to work with me on my technique, all the stuff that matters at the next level. You shouldn't need to get motivated to play the position. You've got to be nasty."
Baca had eight other offers, from Oregon, Oregon State, Arizona, Washington, Iowa State, Boise State, San Diego State and Utah, but the UCLA was the one he was waiting for.
"They've always been my number one school, ever since I was 6 or 7 or so. To be able to play there, it's a dream come true," said Baca. "It was very important for me to be near my family because we're very close. My brother will be playing at Orange Coast College, he's very important to me, and so is my other brother. And of course my mom is also very important to me. She's really excited. It's really important I'm close by."
Baca is hoping that his brother will have an opportunity to play at UCLA, not unlike his former teammate Chane Moline and his brothers Chad and Chase. "Chane is actually one of my friends and a really cool guy," said Baca. "So yeah, my brother is going for that chance like them."
Baca said that Connelly envisions him playing guard, though there is the chance he plays tackle. "They're going to bring me in as a guard, or maybe as a 2-for-1, where I could play either tackle or guard," said Baca.
Baca had gone to UCLA's Junior Day in February, and has been on UCLA's radar since then, and knew that the evaluation period would be huge for him to earn the opportunity at an offer. With his commitment made, he said he's very happy to get it out of the way. "I'm pretty relieved," said Baca. "I knew that I was going to make a decision before my season. But we're still two weeks before school gets out, and I didn't know I would be this early, but I knew before my season. So now I can get focused and get our team on the right track."
Academically, Baca said he was at a 2.8 GPA and would take the SAT in the fall.