FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Arizona RB Baker likes rush of scoring, chocolate

2013-03-26T00:00:00Z Arizona football: Arizona RB Baker likes rush of scoring, chocolateDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

There's a tradition at the end of Arizona Wildcats' spring practices that players love.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez huddles his team up one last time and, when his post-practice speech is done, hands out candy bars to the practice's best performers.

"We had to make sure it wasn't a (rules) violation or anything," Rodriguez said. "I think the players like the attention more than the actual candy bar, but they get excited."

So it was good news for running back Jared Baker when he walked out of Saturday's scrimmage with a Kit-Kat in the lining of his helmet.

"A Kit-Kat for the touchdown I scored," Baker said. "Just another nice part of scoring."

Baker made an impression Saturday, scoring from 60 yards out and using his rousing speed to dart through the Wildcats' defense.

He's hopeful he can continue gaining attention from Rodriguez and his staff. Baker's goal is to emerge as the team's No. 2 running back behind last year's national rushing champion, Ka'Deem Carey.

As a redshirt freshman last season, Baker moved into one of two kick-returner roles and was used sparingly at running back, carrying the ball 20 times for 85 yards and a touchdown.

Here's what to know about the Los Angeles native:

1. He's really fast. Baker was a track star in high school, running both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. He still holds the conference record in the 100 at 10.84 seconds.

The coaches want to see more of his speed when he has the ball and less dancing.

"I know what I do well and also what I'm not so good at," Baker said. "I have to keep playing to my strengths."

2. He's more comfortable and confident. Baker admits he was "messing up all the time last year."

Most of his mistakes were small and correctable, whether it was missing a block or dropping a pass or not being in the right place. Baker said he's trying hard to learn from his setbacks.

"I feel a lot better now," Baker said. "I'm getting the hang of it and feel better about things.

"Everything feels more comfortable to me."

He also understands Rodriguez's system more than he did last year and is now reacting and not thinking as much.

3. He's carving a niche. Baker will likely get a shot at returning kicks again after bringing back five for 100 yards last season.

Between that responsibility and his goal to be a real option at running back, Baker is starting to have a real role on the team.

"That's what the spring is for," Baker said. "To find out where everyone is at and try to find out where I'm at."

He's hoping he can break off a few more of those 60-yard runs to continue carving his niche.

Not to mention - those runs are a lot of fun.

"It feels good after you score when everyone is coming down to the end zone and you get so many chest bumps," Baker said. "It's a great feeling."

On StarNet: Keep up with the UA football team at:

azstarnet.com/uafootball

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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