The Arizona Wildcats landed their first offensive lineman for the 2020 recruiting class earlier this month in Eureka (MO) offensive lineman Josh Baker.
Our original story can be found here, and below is more in-depth analysis on Baker from Brandon Combs and Gabe Encinas.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 280 pounds
School/Hometown: Eureka School (Eureka, MO)
Offers: Arkansas State, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Kent State, Liberty, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State, Navy, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Tulsa, Western Michigan, Wyoming
2018 Stats: N/A
Career Stats: N/A
Rankings: No. 1,454 overall, No. 23 center, No. 26 player in Missouri
Brandon Combs: Baker is a hell of a good find out in the Midwest. He is a great first piece to start the OL group for ‘20.
Baker isn’t the biggest lineman, but he plays bigger. He is an absolute bulldog. He’s tough, aggressive, strong for his size, and plays with a great motor. He engages in his blocks and moves his opponent by constantly keeping his feet moving. At times he drives them into the ground.
A couple of things that really stand out to me about Baker is his versatility and his athleticism. He can move all along the line, from center to tackle. That could come in handy as we all have seen with injuries occuring along the line.
Now, as I mentioned he isn’t the biggest lineman, but still, 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds still equates to a large human being. With that being said, Baker is incredibly athletic. He will sometimes pull from his center position with great quickness, speed, and, dare I say, agility. He makes it look easy and like he isn’t really trying all that hard.
Baker has a high ceiling. And with Josh McCauley running out of eligibility, along with Steven Bailey, it was time Arizona snagged a center. They got a good one. I foresee Baker easily winning the starting job once McCauley graduates.
Gabe Encinas: There is a lot to like about Baker and I think he’s a guy who plays well above his ranking and offer list, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up as a top 800 rank with offers to other Power Five schools in his area like Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.
The first thing to note on his film is his quickness. He looks great pulling left or right and gets a block just in time for the back to get by. He can quickly read which way the defender is trying to go and knows how to use his body to keep lanes open.
He’s very fundamentally sound. He has great feet, good hand placement and terrific balance. He’s being coach by 15-year NFL veteran Andy McCollum and will now be coached by another NFL vet in Kyle DeVan.
Arizona has an immediate and specialized replacement at center for Josh McCauley once he graduates, although he could also play guard if necessary.
For me Baker has an extremely high floor and is someone who could potentially end up as an NFL prospect if he gets the proper development.