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July 20, 2008MORE: Rison: Learn from my mistakes | Day One Photo Gallery
PAISLEY, Fla. ? Edwin Baker goes by the nickname of "The Rock." It's appropriate, because when he's running with the football, he's definitely like a rolling stone.
The four-star running back from Oak Park, Mich., was one of the most impressive looking players on Saturday at the first session of the FBU Top Gun Showcase Camp at the All-Star Sports Training Complex. Arriving much earlier than most of the other players, Baker could have come out flat after sitting around all day. Instead, the Michigan State commit had a strong evening workout and showed why he's one of the nation's best running backs.
"Coming all the way down here was basically about having fun," Baker said after weighing in at 195 pounds. "I want to do what got me here in the first place. I'm not going to overdo it or try to prove anything to anybody but myself. I just want to go out there and have fun."
And if Sunday and Monday are much like his effort on Saturday, then he'll have plenty of fun.
"Edwin Baker was one of the most impressive looking guys, in my opinion," Rivals.com analyst Barry Every said. "From the eyeball standpoint, there aren't too many backs in the nation that look like him. He's got a great compact frame that's really built for the rigors of college football, plus he's got good speed and shows nice explosion."
Baker said the "Rock" nickname has stuck with him for a number of reasons.
"There goes a lot into it how I got the nickname," he said. "My structure and my body size is built kind of like a rock. I'm really tough, strong and everybody says I'm as strong as a rock. I'm hard to move like a rock, too. I'm also like a rock because I'm solid and steady. I'm not going to crumble or break when the pressure is on."
There will be plenty of pressure placed on him this fall.
As one of the top returning players in Michigan, Baker will be the focal point of defenses trying to stop him and possibly bang him up like he was part of his junior season. He was able to rush for 1,295 yards in only six games last year, but he plans on being steady force this fall for Oak Park.
"The biggest thing I want to accomplish is having more yards than I did last year, since I didn't finish the year out right," he said. "I want to finish the whole season out, stay healthy. We're going to be young, so I have to lead my team. On the field, I'm not the type that will be a yeller. I'm going to take what you're doing wrong and help correct you and make it better."
Baker ended the recruiting process in late February when he committed to Michigan State over scholarship offers from Purdue, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan and others. Spartans fans don't have to worry about him changing his mind.
"The biggest reason why I picked Michigan State was because it feels like a big family. When you walk in everybody gives you tremendous respect. Coach Dan Enos, the running back coach, is a great guy.
"Everybody was calling me Rock. He didn't want to come out and call me Rock. He actually asked me, 'Is it OK if I call you Rock?' I felt that was so much respect there."
Baker's pledge was the first piece of what has become one of the nation's best classes early on. Seven of Michigan State's 12 commitments are four-star prospects. Baker is pumped about the Spartans' start.
"They're doing a great job," he said. "I throw my little part into it here and there to help them recruit, but mainly it's the coaches really. I am a little surprised by the success we're having. I didn't think it would be as big of a turnout as it's been so far, at least not this quickly.
"I knew we were going to be great. But I didn't know it was going to be this great. The recruits we're getting, the type of class we have, everything is great for the Spartans."
Check out the Football Recruiting Message Board for live updates from the FBU Top Gun Showcase Camp all day Sunday and Monday.