Notre Dame’s 2020 class got a big boost today, literally and figuratively, when elite offensive tackle Tosh Baker pledged to the Irish. The 6’8″, 275-pound Arizonan made his second trek to campus for the March junior day; reading the tea leaves, it seems that OL coach Jeff Quinn more or less sealed the deal on that visit. Baker hit Ohio State just before that Notre Dame visit and Michigan and UCLA just after it, but none of those schools made a real dent in his recruitment.
Baker started at center for Pinnacle’s 6A state championship basketball team this year too. That invites comparisons to another 6’8″, uber-athletic, basketball-playing, recently-graduated Irish tackle – top-ten draft pick Mike McGlinchey. Like McGlinchey, Baker has first-round potential that he’ll have to work to unlock. But the material is definitely there. This is a critical get for the Irish staff and it allows them to be very picky with the rest of the OL class this cycle.
Recruiting Service Rankings
247 Composite — 4 star (0.9672 rating), #57 overall, #7 OT, #4 in AZ
247 Sports — 4 star (95 rating), #41 overall, #4 OT, #3 in AZ
Rivals — 4 star (6.0 rating), #51 overall, #9 OT, #2 in AZ
ESPN — 4 star (82 rating), #187 overall, #25 OT, #8 in AZ
ISD — 4 star (90 rating)
In addition to Notre Dame, Tosh Baker holds offers from (deep breath) Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, and Washington, among many others. He good.
My goodness, the feet on this kid… Baker has extremely quick feet for his size and generally (more on that in a bit) does a good job keeping his feet under him. He gets off the line and moves in space extremely well when his team asks him to do that. Check the play at the 3:40 mark, where he pulls to lead the tailback to the right side; a guy that big just should not be moving that quickly, and yet there he is. I really like how he stays with a play too; he blocks through a rusher’s second and third moves, and on run plays you could see a couple of defenders pull a Roberto Duran as he went right up to the whistle.
Going back to those quick feet, he’ll occasionally cross them over in pass protection, which is going to get him spilled on his behind at the next level. I’d also like to see more punch from him; he has a tendency to catch pass rushers rather than initiate contact. He’s plenty aggressive as a run blocker, so that’s definitely more a technique issue than an attitude issue. He also needs to add some lower-body strength to help him maintain leverage as rushers get stronger, which isn’t surprising for a basketball kid. Those are all very correctable things that either Quinn or Matt Balis will be able to get him through.
There are very small odds that Tosh Baker will be needed immediately. In 2020, the Irish are slated to have multi-year starters Liam Eichenberg and Robert Hainsey in their final year of eligibility, with four or five younger guys behind them who will vie for the backup roles. Baker will have plenty of time to work on what he needs to; I could see him taking on a contributor role as a sophomore and moving to a front-line player as a junior. I definitely feel confident enough based on his current profile to project him as a multi-year starter himself. Beyond that, we’ll see, but he has all the physical tools he needs to continue Notre Dame’s recent run of success at the tackle spots.
Welcome to the Irish family, Tosh!