Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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30 MARCH 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2020 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY MIKE SINGER Tosh Baker always thought he would be a basketball player in college. The Phoenix Pinnacle standout held scholarship offers from Cal Poly, Northern Arizona and UC Santa Bar- bara on the hardwood. He helped lead his team to the Arizona 6A state championship in both 2018 and 2019, and averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 re- bounds per game as a junior. But after his strong junior season on the gridiron, Baker blew up as an offensive tackle prospect. From Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, Baker earned 13 new scholarship offers from Power Five programs — includ- ing Notre Dame, which ultimately won his recruitment. The Fighting Irish offered the 6-7, 283-pounder on Dec. 15, 2018, which is when he made his first trip out to South Bend and got to see Notre Dame firsthand. "After that visit, I knew Notre Dame was my top school," Baker said. "From there, I wanted to visit the other schools. I was comparing my other visits to Notre Dame. "I always had Notre Dame at the top spot ever since that first visit." Baker returned to Notre Dame again in March to learn even more about the Irish. "That's when I knew that Notre Dame was going to be my choice," Baker noted. "I got on campus and it just felt like home and the right spot for me. That's when I knew, but I took more visits to clarify that it was the right decision for me and my family, and then I committed in May." Picking Notre Dame was a "gut feeling" for Baker, who is ranked as the No. 13 offensive tackle and No. 136 overall player in the country by Rivals. "When you step on campus and you know that it's the right place for you and it's going to help shape you throughout the most important years of your life, then that's when you have to jump on that decision. "The academics at Notre Dame are obvious; it's compared to an Ivy League school." Baker's relationship with offensive line coach Jeff Quinn goes beyond just what the Irish coach can do for his football career. "He's a family man and a man of faith," Baker said. "Those are two big things for him, and he takes both of them to the football field. He really creates a family environment and a brotherhood with the O-line room. "That's huge and was a part of my decision in choosing Notre Dame — that culture." ✦ Tosh Baker Charts A New Course From The Hardwood To The Gridiron Rivals rates the 6-7, 283-pound Baker as the nation's No. 13 offensive tackle and No. 136 overall prospect. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM TOSH BAKER OFFENSIVE TACKLE 6-7 · 283 PINNACLE PHOENIX RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 136 13 4 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 175 22 6 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 56 4 3 STATISTICS • Helped lead Pinnacle to an 8-3 record in 2019 and a spot in the Arizona Open Division playoffs. Pinnacle averaged 241.3 passing yards per game and totaled 27 passing scores, while also rushing for 1,840 yards and 29 touchdowns. • Pinnacle fell in the state semifinals in 2018 and finished 11-2; Baker was a vital part of his team rushing for 2,141 yards and 26 touchdowns, plus compiling 3,960 passing yards and 42 scores. NOTABLE • Born on April 3, 2002 • 2019 MaxPreps Arizona All-State first-team offense • Won the inaugural Randall McDaniel Award as the top offensive lineman in Arizona • First-team 2018 American Family Insurance All- USA Arizona high school football team • Held offers from UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and Hampton as a basketball recruit • Played center in basketball and helped lead Pinnacle to Arizona 6A state championships in 2018 and 2019 • Averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a junior • 4.35 GPA ALL-STAR GAMES • Selected for 2020 All-American Bowl, but did not play in the game due to a minor knee injury • Picked for 2020 Polynesian Bowl RECRUITMENT • Committed to Notre Dame on May 8, 2019. • Picked the Irish over Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, USC and many others. • Originally believed he'd play basketball in col- lege, but blew up as a football recruit following his junior season. • Offered by Notre Dame on Dec. 15, 2018 dur- ing a campus visit. • Officially visited Notre Dame on June 21, 2019. 2020 PROJECTION • With five scholarship tackles returning, expect a redshirt season for Baker in 2020. THEY SAID IT Pinnacle head coach Dana Zupke: "Besides the obvious physical attributes, he's very athletic and intelligent. He's very cerebral. He's like an extra coach on the field. Usually, my O-line coach will get to him, and he already knows what he needs to correct." National recruiting analyst Tom Lemming: "He's proved to be the most dominant tackle prospect in the state. He controls the point of attack and is technically sound. "Tosh already excels as a pass blocker using his long arms, quick hands and even quick feet to hold back would-be sackers. He shows very good straight-ahead speed and dominates the point of attack with his strength and leverage."

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