Pros and Cons of 4-Star ATH Budda Baker's Top Schools
Budda Baker is one of the most exciting players out west and is a coveted recruit by many schools. Baker is a 5'9", 174-pound stick of dynamite on the field who can make an impact in various ways.
One of the most explosive players in the country, Baker has outstanding athleticism and quickness. He has the instincts, range and transition explosiveness to play safety, along with the cover skills to hold his own as a cornerback.
Baker is fantastic with the football in his hands, which is why it will not be shocking to see him become a running back or receiver in college. He is also a great returner and can change the course of a game on special teams.
Baker has narrowed his list to five schools, according to Brandon Huffman of Scout.com (subscription required). He can't go wrong with any of his choices but will have to decide which school ultimately gives him the best chance to succeed as a player and person.
The Bruins are a program on the right track. Jim Mora is a player's coach who gives off infectious energy.
If Baker wants to be a defensive back, then Mora's NFL experience as a secondary coach is an advantage. UCLA also runs a spread offense, which suits Baker's strengths as an offensive player.
The weather in Los Angeles is great, plus UCLA's campus is beautiful. Baker would also be able to join his friend, 2013 UCLA signee Myles Jack.
Stability questions are lurking around UCLA regarding Mora. If he has another solid season or two with the Bruins, he could see the NFL call him back.
Todd Graham's program would likely want Baker to play in its spread offense, not as a defensive back. Baker could constantly get the ball in space and will likely immediately become a primary returner for the Sun Devils.
Arizona State is close to the city of Phoenix, plus the school is known for its fun atmosphere. Academics are solid at ASU, but not as strenuous as other universities.
The Sun Devils are not a dominant program in the Pac-12, as USC, Oregon and Stanford are higher in the pecking order. The heat can be overwhelming, and training camp can be brutal.
If Baker wants to be challenged academically, several other schools on his list are better fits.
Notre Dame has unrivaled tradition. The Irish are a nationally recognized program and have a mature atmosphere. Baker would be able to work toward an outstanding academic degree while playing in several big games each season.
Baker would receive great exposure in South Bend, as Notre Dame's games are constantly on national television. He would instantly be one of the fastest and quickest players on the team, which should get him early playing time.
Notre Dame is not for everyone, as some players are not impressed by its tradition and distinguished atmosphere.
The school's academic requirements can be challenging, and the weather in South Bend is not great.
Oregon is one the best programs in the Pac-12 and routinely challenges for Rose Bowl berths.
Eugene is not far from Baker's hometown in Bellevue, Wash.
Baker's speedy style of play would be a seamless fit in Oregon, as the Ducks play a similar style of football. The facilities in Eugene are outstanding, Autzen Stadium is as loud a venue as there is in the country, and Baker could be groomed to fill current offensive threat De'Anthony Thomas' shoes.
Plus, Oregon's uniform combinations are nearly endless.
The Ducks have several young offensive players who are as fast and quick as Baker, so early playing time may be hard to come by.
Baker should take a wait-and-see approach to the Ducks, as new coach Mark Helfrich will need to prove himself early in the season.
The Huskies offer Baker the chance to stay close to home while playing in a BCS conference for a program that is on the rise. He would likely get on the field immediately, and Steve Sarkisian knows how to develop offensive talent.
Even if Baker wants to play defense, he still should see the field as a true freshman. Washington has solid facilities, its fanbase supports the program well, and Baker would be considered a state treasure if he won in Seattle.
Baker must decide if he wants to deal with the pressure of playing close to home. Washington's arrow is pointing upwards, but can the Huskies catch Oregon, Stanford and USC in the Pac-12?