Jared Baker is just one the few Mike Stoops recruits left on Arizona's roster. As a 5th year senior, he's seen limited carries throughout his career, but is now poised to assume a bigger role and backup one of the nation's leading rushers in Nick Wilson.
"This year seems special and it's definitely been a long time to this point," Baker said about his new role. "It's crazy because it's the reverse when I got here, it was a bunch of older guys. These guys pick it up pretty quick so it's been easy and I haven't had to say much, they get it and I'm excited for it. I really haven't had too much playing time in the past but now I'm excited for this season."
There's been some shake up on the offensive line this offseason, but that doesn't seem to phase Baker.
Previewing the running backs
We know Nick Wilson is a phenomenal player, but the rest of the running backs are unproven. Which one will rise to the occasion?
"I felt comfortable running behind that offensive line and they made it easy for me. You can notice the chemistry a little, but they feel like a cohesive unit with Lene (Maiava) and Freddie (Tagaloa) on both sides," he said when asked about the offensive line.
Coming out of high school, Baker had a quite a few offers from across the country, but chose to stay relatively close to his home in Los Angeles.
"I came here and I just really liked it. It's not too far from home compared to other schools. I liked the school and I liked the atmosphere here."
Growing up in Los Angeles, he watched a lot of USC and UCLA, as Loyola High School is just two miles away from the Coliseum and just over 10 miles from the Rose Bowl.
"Definitely huge because I used to watch a lot of games there [USC], when I was younger, but more so UCLA. It's special there because it's iconic, it's the Coliseum," he said when asked about going back to LA for the USC game.
That got us on the topic of other Pac-12 venues, with Washington being Baker's favorite venue to travel to. He cited the atmosphere, noise level, and fan base as his reasons why.
Baker has been named All Pac-12 Academic many times throughout his past four years at Arizona, finding a nice balance between his school work and football. He is majoring in sustainable built environments.
"Try to get whatever I can done before competition so that I'm not stressing about it on the weekend. Try to study before so that you can just focus on the game," when asked about his schedule balance.
Lindy's on 4th is the spot for Jared Baker when he's hungry -- usually going with a double Shroomin' Cow or the Diablo Burger. Baker might be an unknown team jokester, because his favorite emoji is the smiley face with the laughing tears coming out of the sides.
With Nick Wilson looking to carry a bulk of the workload, while playing 12 straight weeks, look for Jared Baker to step up. He'll help take some meaningful carries throughout the season, hopefully coming up clutch a few times like he did in 2014 vs. USC.