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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Get to Know: Demetre Baker

In our latest installment of our "Get to Know" series, we catch up with linebacker Demetre Baker, one of four incoming freshmen from the state of Florida. Baker's expectations for college are all very reasonable -- just getting his degree, going undefeated, winning a national title, making the Olympics in discus or shotput and getting a shot to play in the NFL. Gotta love that enthusiasm, right? So, here's more of what Baker had to say...

David Hale: You're a Florida guy, growing up in the Jacksonville area. What attracted you to Georgia?

Demetre Baker: When I first met up with Coach Richt, I liked the program and I liked the people around it. It was just the people and the coaches that seemed to care about being more of a great person followed by a great athlete, and that was really important to me.

DH: Some of the people involved in recruiting you aren't at Georgia anymore after changes were made on the defensive staff. Did that cause you to reconsider your decision to come to Georgia at any point?

DB: I just wanted to realize, who could I trust the most? I know a lot of coaches are going to tell me, we're going to do this or we're going to do that. But it really boiled down to -- was this a place I could live for four years. When I got to Georgia, just being there for 10 or 15 minutes, I knew this was where I was going to be.

DH: When the coaching changes happened, did other schools get back in touch with you and try to get you to change your mind about Georgia?

DB: I actually didn't. A lot of recruiters what type of person I was and the leadership I bring, and once my mind was made up, that's where I'm going to go.

DH: What were your early impressions of Coach Grantham and the other new coaches?

DB: I got the news as soon as they got there that they were going to be some great coaches. Coach Richt himself told me they were going to hire the best and take care of the job and get it done. I knew he was going to have somebody that was going to be better than what they had before.

DH: Do you have an idea yet of how you'll fit in in the new 3-4 defense that Grantham is installing?

DB: From what I understand, we've had some discussions about playing outside linebacker. They'll have me a little bit of outside running the 3-4 scheme and blitzing a lot.

DH: I'm sure that's something that sounds good to any defensive player, right?

DB: It's good. With my speed, running a 4.4, they can use me outside, give me a chance to run and chase those quarterbacks. That's what I do. That's what I'm best at on defense.

DH: Are you excited about having a chance to be coached by someone with as much NFL experience as Grantham has?

DB: Absolutely. It gives us the opportunity to figure out how the next level trains and how they play the game -- going from high school to college and the NFL, all three different stages. So it's definitely good to have someone from the NFL come down and help us get prepared and make us a better team.

DH: Have you stayed in touch with some of the guys on the team already to try to get an idea of what you'll need to do to be ready once you arrive on campus? Do you feel like you'll be comfortable with the defense when you start practice?

DB: Running the 3-4 won't be a big change for me. My high school has run that, so I've been in that position before. It shouldn't be hard to adjust to. I'm already the size of a sophomore in college, so I think that won't be an adjustment. I think I'll get there and be perfectly fine with the new defense, be ready to rock and roll come game day.

DH: It's just a few more days before you get to campus. Any nerves?

DB: I think it will be more intense than what I've been used to. I think once I get there, it's going to be a different world. But I think I'm ready for it. And I think they're ready for me as well.

DH: Besides football, you've excelled in track-and-field, too. You recently won state championships in both discus and shotput, right?

DB: I've been a state champion since sophomore year in shotput, and I always fell second in discus due to some technique issues that I worked out over four years and I finally came through and PRed. I was able to hit 191, which no one had done that in some years.

DH: Is there some crossover between discus and shotput and what you're doing training for football?

DB: I think both of them are sports that you've got to be quick and explosive with the shotput, and you definitely have to have some technique and speed behind you with the discus. As far as football, it's an all-natural sport. You've got to go out there and run loose. You've got to let the animal inside you out and handle yourself as an athlete.

DH: Are you planning to continue your track-and-field work at Georgia, too?

DB: Definitely. Coach Richt and I talked to the track coach about it. He's one of the best coaches around, and I heard the shotput champion in the Olympics had actually trained there, so they're looking forward to having me on the track as well as football.

DH: So which sport is your favorite?

DB: I'd have to say -- I love both sports. I also did weight lifting. I came in third in the state this year. I went to state two times in a row -- my first two years of weight lifting. It helped me out a lot strength-wise and putting that extra 10 or 20 feet on as far as shotput and discus.

DH: What would you say are your biggest strengths right now and what do you feel like you're going to have to work on the most when you get to Georgia?

DB: I think my strength is going to be being very fast and physical, being able to run around from sideline to sideline and make a play. Some things I have to work on would be maybe coverage a little bit. Being able to defend without looking back at the quarterback and once the ball's in the air. But I don't think that will be hard to adjust to. I'll be playing in an open area and running out in space, it will be better than just coming downhill.

DH: You talked about your leadership qualities and about your weight training. I'm guessing that will remind a few Georgia fans of another linebacker at UGA -- Rennie Curran. Did you get a chance to meet Rennie when you were being recruited?

DB: Absolutely. When I first got there, he was one of the guys everybody wanted me to meet. I got over there and talked to him a bit. We seem to have some similar problems like family issues and stuff like that. We both have daughters. That's something we looked forward to doing was getting down there and making it to the next level so we could take care of our families.

DH: With all the big changes coming up in your life, how are you going to handle balancing those family responsibilities with football and college and all the other stuff that goes with that?

DB: Really I just try to keep a clear mind. I just know that when I'm away, there's going to be business to take care of, and everything else falls second. As long as I go there and play my best, encourage my players to play at their best, show leadership -- that's most important. Then coming home with a degree or coming home knowing I made it to the NFL or the Olympics, that would be a great success.

DH: So when you're not playing sports, what do you like to do for fun?

DB: Usually I like to go out and have dinner or hang out with some friends. I was there and saw the downtown (in Athens) and it's a little bit wild. But you don't have to worry about that. I'm not that type of person. I usually stay indoors, try to keep small business and be careful with how I conduct myself. I don't want any trouble because it's easy to get into and hard to get out.

DH: If you could sit down for dinner with any celebrity, who would it be?

DB: I would say Denzel Washington. I like every movie he's in. He challenges people mentally. I don't know how he does it, but he seems like a great guy overall. He's got a great personality, and he makes the movie a good movie.

DH: Did you have a favorite player growing up or someone you modeled your game after?

DB: I don't have any favorite player, but I just love great athletes. I love guys who are there for football and not there for all the fans or the critics and all the other stuff that comes with it. I love players that love the sport and want to get after it.

DH: Did you have a favorite team?

DB: I had to go with the Jaguars, but watching them play lately, I've seen a lot of players that aren't really out there for football. They're just out there to make some money.

DH: OK, last question -- what's the one thing you're most looking forward to when you get to Georgia?

DB: I'll tell you what -- the thing I'm most looking forward to is winning a championship or going undefeated. Those were my top career goals, and I've done it in junior high, I've done it in high school, and I want to do it in college.


meansonny said...

DGD: Demtre Baker

Paul said...

Great interview, Dave. Sounds like an intense dude.

Stuart said...

"So Demetre, if your style of play at linebacker were a LOST character which one would it be?"

David said...

"I don't want any trouble because it's easy to get into and hard to get out."

Sounds good to me!