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Photo by Twitter / Justin Baker

Baker Talks Cal Commitment

August 17, 2019

Coming into the season, one of the Bears’ priorities was to add depth at the receiving position and speed and athleticism, as well. Enter 5-9/185 Kennedy Catholic (Burien, WA) High School athlete Justin Baker, who will likely play receiver at Cal after committing to the Bears this week.

What made the Bears the right choice for the 3 star athlete?

“Just looking at everything from an at-large perspective, Cal had so much opportunity athletically and academically,” said Baker. “And the setting, obviously it’s a great place to be, with great weather down there. And the culture is progressive, with always a lot going on.

“I always wanted to live in California since I was a kid. I always thought living in California would be super cool, being near the beach, with palm trees and great weather.

“It wasn’t a huge factor in my decision but I think weather was one of the bigger reasons, though. 

“I’m super happy  that it worked out.”

Baker has fit in seemlessly with his 2020 classmates so far.

“The day that I committed, the guys put me in their 2020 commits group chat,” said Baker. “A lot of the guys, I knew already from social media and things like that. And Trey (Paster), we played on the same FSP team together. so it’s super dope to be able to play with him. He committed a while before me so he could introduce me to the other guys.

“I also had followed Casey (Filkins) and Tommy (Christakos) on Instagram.

“Last night, I sat down and watched all the Cal receiving commits’ highlights from last season. Wow! We’re all pretty good!. I like to think my highlights were good from last year but I’m sitting there watching four minutes of touchdowns with these guys!”

The relationship Baker’s built with the staff was another strong factor for him, beginning with running backs coach Nick Edwards, who hails from Tacoma, WA and starred at Foss High School as a prep player.

“Coach Edwards has been the coach I’ve talked with the longest from any of the coaches that were recruiting me from all the programs, like from week two last season,” said Baker. “He was the first coach to talk with me about things that had nothing to do with football. I was asking if he needed something from me but he just wanted to talk to me about regular stuff like what kind of clothes I like to wear and what I like to do in my extra time. That was cool.

“(Kennedy Catholic) Coach (Sheldon) Cross always is telling me what a great athlete he was when he played around here.

“Coach Toler, I haven’t gotten a chance to talk with him as much yet but when I went down there on my visit after The Opening regional, he and the coaches were just real with me and my dad, just like regular guys talking with you. It’s so cool how honest they are and so genuine. 

“Obviously college coaches are good at recruiting and they say things you want to hear but when you can find coaches who you know they’re sincere and being themselves, that's really cool.”

As for goais for his senior season, Baker’s set his sights high.

“First of all, we want to win the state championship,” said Baker. “We have a really good chance. Our team is older now, with almost the whole team back who’s played together for the last three years. Pretty much everyone else in our classification had huge senior classes last season.

“In terms of personal goals, there’s so many things I want to polish in my game. Last season was my first one at receiver. This is the first year I’ve come into the season playing receiver because last year, i was still at running back in spring ball. Then a week before our first game, they moved me to receiver. I was fast so it worked out but now I know so much more and there’s so much more I want to learn and polish and make an impact.”

Baker would also like to do his best to help add a couple familiar faces to Cal’s 2020 class with him.

“I talk to DJ (Rogers) a lot,” said Baker. “We’re good friends. I’ve known him since we were kids. I want to get Ayden (Hector), too. Ayden and DJ are good friends. I’ve played with Ayden since 8th grade on FSB. They’re just two really smart guys with high football IQ and really good players. That would be so fun to be able to play with them.

“DJ’s really good and he knows what’s up with Cal. He’s so big and fast. We’re just watching the games at FSP and he’ll catch the ball and just run like a slot receiver and he’s huge. I hope he comes to Cal.”

The speedy Baker had 17 TDs and 1,553 total yards as a junior in his first season at receiver. He also had offers from Colorado, Arizona, Oregon State, Boise State, and Nebraska among others.

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