We wrote about Bellevue star Budda Baker for Friday’s paper. We detailed his relationship with his older brother and went into detail about his personality, character and values.
What we didn’t touch on, notably, was just how good of a football player he is. Yes, he is extremely talented. Enough so that most of the big name programs covet him. His list of colleges is narrowed to Washington, Oregon and UCLA and Baker probably won’t make his decision until signing day.
Brandon Huffman, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com, had plenty of positives to say about Baker. In fact, the first time Huffman saw him play, Baker dazzled.
“He takes the kickoff from like 90 yards back for a touchdown,” Huffman said. “It was like the fourth time he’d scored a touchdown off a kick return that year. You look at him size wise and you’re like, ‘What’s he going to do?’ because he’s so small. But then you watch him in the kick [return] and you’re like, ‘Yes, I absolutely can see it.’ De’Anthony Thomas was a freshman at Oregon at that point, so you’re like, it doesn’t matter how big you are, you can’t hurt what you can’t catch.”
Here’s more from out chat with Huffman.
On what stands out about Baker: The electricity, I think probably more than anything. When he touches the ball, he’s got a chance to do amazing things with it. It doesn’t matter if it’s returning kicks, punts, catching the ball out of the backfield, taking a handoff, intercepting a ball, he’s so electric in the way … I don’t want to get all hyperbolic, but every time he touches the ball, there’s a chance he’s going to do something special with it.
On if he projects as a defender in college: There’s no question. I’d say it’s the best year of two-way players I’ve ever seen. You have Adoree Jackson and Juju Smith down in Southern California and Michiah Quick in Central California. Of those four, Adoree projects best as corner, but he’s more natural on offense. Juju Smith projects at safety, but his best position is receiver. Budda is probably the best defensive player of that group right now by far. Because, as a defensive prospect, he’s the best of that group. He’s not quite the explosive athlete that Adoree is, which I think says more about the kind of player Adoree Jackson is, but as a defensive [back], here’s a guy that has corner size, but [plays like a] safety. He’ll come up and knock your head off and almost enjoys hitting more than covering. When you see smaller, undersized guys, most of those guys are known for their coverage ability. He’ll hit you. He’s kind of in the Earl Thomas mode. He doesn’t care that he’s giving three or four inches and 40, 50 pounds, he’s going to make it seem like it’s the other way around.
On his character: His teammates love him, younger kids look up to him. I think that the one thing about him probably more than anything is, for as high profile a recruit he is — not just regionally, but nationally with the schools coming after him — with the players that he’s played with on the seven-on-seven circuit, he’s widely respected. That’s not always the case with the elite recruits, especially when they’re kind of the big fish in the small pond.