By Patrick Cochran
Elliot Baker is sitting on top of the college football universe. In January he transferred from City College, where he started for two years at offensive tackle, to perennial powerhouse the University of Alabama. But Baker’s journey to Tuscaloosa hasn’t been a straight path and after high school he even thought about giving up the game to become a firefighter.
“I had four coaches in four years in high school,” said Baker, who went to Archbishop Riordan. “I didn’t have any stability and wasn’t having a good time so I just thought football wasn’t going to be in my future. I really thought about becoming a fire for the SFFD. I didn’t want to work a desk job and wanted to do something hands on.”
Luckily for Baker someone was able to convince him otherwise. Rams offensive line coach Eduardo Nun(~)o first saw Baker on team picture day at Riordan and asked his close friend Edguar Flores, Baker’s freshman coach, about him.
“I walked into the basketball gym and they were taking pictures and I was like who the hell is that guy,” said Nuno. “I knew the head coach there but he hadn’t said anything to me about him because Baker wasn’t in his best graces.”
Baker redshirted his first year at City College. During that season he worked hard to bulk himself up since he came in at only 250 pounds.
“He was very very raw when he came to us,” said Nuno. “He was just a big kid with some athletic ability.”
After spending his first year putting on weight, practicing in drills to acquire blocking skills, and learning the Ram’s offense Baker was ready to play. Baker became a two year starter for the Rams and was instrumental, along with his other offensive linemates, in helping the Rams win the state and national junior college championship in 2015.
After his play that season Baker began to receive scholarship offers from big time universities.
“Alabama offered me last April,” said Baker. “Before that they wanted to make sure I would fit their system so they talked a lot to coach Collins.”
Baker also heavily considered the University of Georgia, Louisiana State University (LSU), and the University of Miami before deciding on Alabama which is in the Southeast Conference (SEC).
“For offensive linemen the SEC is great,” said Baker. “You get the best experience since you against future NFL players every weekend.”
Baker has a very good shot at starting either at guard or tackle for Alabama, who narrowly lost 35-31 last month to Clemson in the National Championship Game and have won a total of four National Championships under head coach Nick Saban. Two starting offensive linemen are graduating or declaring early for draft, including Cam Robinson, the stellar left tackle who plays the same position as Baker does.
Coach Nuno seems to think so. “He has already developed into a physical specimen, he is 6’7 and now weighs over 300 pounds,” said Nuno. “He isn’t like your typical incoming freshman. He has amazing footwork that makes him stand out. His size makes him more like a typical offensive tackle but he is able to get down low so he can fill in at guard if they need him to.”
If Baker plays well he has very strong shot at getting drafted into the NFL. Alabama is a virtual NFL players assembly line with nearly every recent NFL draft seeing ‘Bama players getting drafted in the first round. Getting named the starting left tackle would potentially mean even more money for Baker. Left tackles, who protect the quarterback’s blind side from pass rushers are one of the highest paid jobs in football, with stars making will over ten million dollars a year.
Baker for now is just trying to work his hardest in practice and in class. “I really like it down here,” said Baker. “It is definitely different than San Francisco. For now I am trying to get good grades and prepare myself for spring practice.”