March 8, 2009

Baker stresses the importance of winning

In the words of the late Henry Russell Sanders:

"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."

For Waco native Troy Baker, those words couldn't ring truer.

Why?

Because that's the very least the Baylor program has to do in 2009 to get him to consider changing his commitment from Texas Tech to Baylor.

"Nothing short of a bowl game," Baker said. "And with the coaches they have now, that's the bare minimum."

Even though both of the 6-foot-7, 284-pound offensive tackle's parents are Baylor graduates and fans, Baker didn't grow up rooting for the Bears. That all changed with the coming of the Art Briles era.

"Surprisingly, only a few of my friends are Baylor fans even though I do live here in Waco. Most are the typical UT or A&M fans. That's about the variety we have at Connally," Baker said. "I became a fan this year seeing the changes in the way the team played from Morris to Briles. It really was that big of a change in less than a year."

The importance of winning seems to be a recurrent theme in Baker's football life. In fact, Texas Tech's upset win over the University of Texas this past season played a central role in Baker's commitment to Texas Tech over Baylor.

"I like how Baylor is an up and coming program. I like Baylor's Academics, their coaches, and the facilities are definitely an advantage," Baker said. "I expect Baylor to do extremely well."

"I like how Tech has had great offensive lines the past few years. I like the city of Lubbock, their coaches, and their fans are insane," Baker said. "What separates the two in my decision as of now - with a good nine months to go - would be my experience with Lubbock and Tech fans on Nov. 1st when they beat UT. I really wanted to be apart of that."

So far, Baker has attended both Baylor and Oklahoma State's junior days this off-season. Fortunately for Baylor fans, Baker was blown away by the new 34-million-dollar Highers Athletic Complex, which has given Baylor quite a bit of ammunition as of late in recruiting game.

"Overall it went extremely well. Seeing the new facilities was definitely cool; that place is insane," Baker said. "I got to meet with all the coaches for the most part. Touring the campus was nice as even though I live in Waco, I barely get time to be on campus. It almost didn't feel like I was even in Waco."

Fortunately for Cowboy fans, the contributions of T. Boone Pickens and others have gone a long way towards strengthening the Oklahoma State program in the facilities arms race that has characterized the Big 12 over the last decade.

"The second Junior Day was Oklahoma State's on the 28th. That went well also," Baker said. "They have some nice facilities, as well, that are still under construction and are pretty parallel to Baylor's from what I remember. Meeting the coaches was good, as the only one I had met so far was my area's recruiter. And of course getting the offer was a plus side."

As of today, Baker lists his top three as 1) Texas Tech, 2a) Baylor, and 2b) Oklahoma State. Although Tech is his choice as of now, Baker admits that a lot can happen in the months between now and National Signing Day in 2010.

"My verbal commitment to Tech right now is just that, a verbal commitment. As of now Tech is who I'd choose," Baker said. "Anything that happens in the 2009 season with Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State will affect my decision as to where I enroll next January."


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