Budda Baker is staying home.
The prized recruit from Bellevue High School committed to Washington during a live broadcast on KING 5 TV on Tuesday evening, the night before National Signing Day.
“I’m a big family person. Family comes first,” Baker said, after unzipping his jacket to reveal a black Washington shirt and then slipping on a black “W” hat. “I’ll be close to my family, they’ll get to come see me play, so it’s just a true blessing.”
Baker is the fourth four-star recruit to commit to new UW coach Chris Petersen. Baker had committed to Oregon in December but backed off that commitment in January, then narrowed his choices to UW and UCLA.
Baker said Petersen was “a great guy” who reminded him of Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff, who has led the Wolverines to six straight state titles.
“It was real tough,” Baker said the recruiting process. “I had a lot of reporters calling me, coaches, but it’s all over now.”
The Huskies had landed another big local recruiting coup on Monday when Fife’s 6-foot-8, 285-pound lineman, Kaleb McGary, considered the state’s second-best recruit behind Baker, made a verbal commitment to the Huskies.
UW now has 22 committed recruits for this class that was ranked 38th by Scout.com and 42nd by 247sports.com before Baker’s announcement.
Baker is the top prospect in the Northwest and the No. 4 safety nationally, according to Scout.com. The All-American was named the Washington state Player of the Year by The Seattle Times, The News Tribune and the Associated Press.
The 5-foot-8, 177-pound Baker also played running back and returned kicks for powerhouse Bellevue. He has expressed interest in playing on both sides of the ball at the collegiate level, but said he would prefer to play defense.
Baker mostly played in the first half of games this season due to Bellevue’s dominance. He still managed 59 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and four touchdowns on defense and special teams in leading the Wolverines to their sixth straight state title.
Petersen will host a signing day press conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday at UW.
— budda baker (@buddabaker32) February 5, 2014
— Peter Kwiatkowski (@CoachK_UW) February 5, 2014
— Jordan Paopao (@CoachPaopao) February 5, 2014