It's still very early in the recruiting process for prospects in the Class of 2005, but that hasn't stopped one of North Carolina's best young football players from creating an early list of favorites.
Toney Baker, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back from Jamestown (N.C.) Ragsdale, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds and is sure to be rated among the top players in the nation when rankings come out. Who are his leaders?
"I've said for a while that my favorites are Tennessee, UNC, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech," said Baker. "I'm sticking with those five for now as the schools I'm really interested in. There could be a school or two that comes along and impresses me, but these are my five for now.
"I like them because I think they all have the ability to develop me as a player, they all have solid academics, and they're all pretty close to home. I like this part of the country, and I don't think I want to move too far from home right now."
Baker is similar in physique to running back George Bell, one of the top rated backs in North Carolina from the Class of 2004. When you think about Bell, Andre Brown, Jamaal Edwards and the other backs North Carolina produced in the most recent signing class, it's amazing to think that many considered Baker the best in the state as a junior.
"I don't really compare myself to all these other players," said Baker. "I've got my own style. There were a lot of good backs in the state last year and we'll have a lot this year. My biggest strengths are my speed, strength and vision. I think I've got the complete package, and how far I go will depend on how hard I'm willing to work. Right now I'm dedicating myself entirely to school and football."
As a junior Baker rushed for an amazing 3,411 yards and 41 touchdowns. He also carries a 3.0 GPA.