I need to preface this article by saying that I do not know Budda Baker. Not personally, professionally, or in any other capacity. If I did, then perhaps I wouldn’t need to ask the following question:
Who got to him?
If you’re not following the recruiting trail, Budda Baker is a standout prep from Bellevue, Washington, and verbally committed to play football at Oregon in 2014. His twitter account exploded upon his announcement, which included a picture of him draped in Oregon gear. It seemed the perfect fit — the star athlete, bursting with potential on both sides of the ball, headed to the most innovative university in the country.
Then, in an instant, it was gone.
Budda announced last week that he was de-committing from Oregon, and that “It’s not the place for me.” Now, the fact that an 18-yr. old changed his mind isn’t the part that gets me. That happens all the time. The timing — and what he said — is what leads me to question. It sounds as if Baker is saying “Someone told me things about Oregon, and now I’m moving on.”
So, the question of “who?” must be asked.
Was is Chris Peterson? The new Huskies coach knows the Oregon program well, having served as an assistant before moving to Boise State. It’s also in his best interest to keep the top talent in the state of Washington home, which Budda certainly is.
Was is Jim Mora? Let’s face it — no one would put it past ol’ Jimmy to play dirty pool in the recruiting game. And, suddenly, Baker has an official visit scheduled for UCLA next week. Very interesting.
Was it De’Anthony Thomas? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that DAT had fallen out of favor with the coaching staff as the season wounded down. Perhaps it was his Rose Bowl comments? A lack of maturity and motivation? We will probably never truly know the reason, but it’s safe to assume that if the coaches had indeed lost faith in DAT, then I’m guessing he felt the same way toward the coaches. Thomas and Baker are surely in contact after meeting each other and getting to know themselves during the official visit – that’s what kids do. But perhaps that means the culprit is in Oregon’s backyard.
Perhaps . . . no one got to him at all. He said late last week in an interview that he couldn’t envision himself living in Eugene for four years, and that he wanted to play defense, but Oregon had him tabbed for offense. Yeah. R-i-i-i-ght.
I find it incredibly hard to believe that the Oregon coaching staff would be so stubborn as to lose a player over a position dispute. You don’t let a guy like Baker get away; especially considering Oregon’s defense wasn’t exactly the second coming of the Purple People Eaters last year. He wants to play safety? Oregon would have let him. He’s not a huge fan of Eugene? Just show him the facilities and the cheerleaders again. No, it’s not as simple as Budda is making it out to be. It can’t be; there has to be more to the story.
I wish Baker nothing but the best; by all accounts he’s a wonderful kid who, maybe, had a sudden change of heart and that’s it. If there’s more to the story, however, and someone is spreading unsubstatiated things about Oregon, it’s in the school’s best interest to find out who — and put a stop to it immediately.
(Top picture from Video)