Yesterday I started a new series "The Best Ever" featuring Johnny Adams. Today I'm back with the second part of the series:
#4 Edwin Baker, Running Back, Jr.
When I first read that Edwin Baker set a goal of rushing for 2,000 yards and 21 TDs this season I thought it was a joke. When I asked him about it I realized he was dead serious about it. If he were to accomplish his goal it would be the greatest rushing season by a running back in MSU history.
The caliber of running backs at MSU is a little better than corner back. I feel safe in saying that Lorenzo White is the best running back in Michigan State history with Javon Ringer coming in second. White had two outstanding seasons at MSU finishing fourth in the Heisman voting in both 1985 and 1987, and holds most of the all-time rushing records at the school.
In 1985 Lorenzo White rushed 419 times for 2,066 yards and 17 TDs. That's not quite Barry Sanders type numbers but he ran the ball 419 times! In 1987 White tallied 357 attempts for 1,572 yards and 16 TDs. Those are two of the top three seasons running the ball at MSU. Javon Ringer owns the third with his 2008 season when he ran for 1,637 yards on 390 carries and a school record 22 TDs. Ringer finished 3rd in the Doak Walker voting that year (for the nation's best running back) behind Shonn Greene and Knowshon Moreno.
- White 1985: 419 carries, 2,066 yards, 17 TDs
- Ringer 2008: 390 carries, 1,637 yards, 22 TDs
- White 1987: 357 carries, 1,572 yards, 16 TDs
Looking at it like that, I feel that 2,000 yards with 21 TDs for Baker would one-up White's season of 1985. The problem is THERE IS NO WAY IT WILL HAPPEN. There are plenty of reasons why it won't happen this year. First there is the fact that nobody, including coaches and players, know how the offensive line will be. Those guys are kind of important for reaching rushing records. The second reason is the fact that the backfield is jam-packed with talent. When Ringer went nuts in 2008 he was the only option. Almost every time he got a rest AJ Jimmerson would fumble.
The third and most important reason why Edwin Baker will not reach his goal this season is this: Last year Edwin Baker, Le'Veon Bell, Larry Caper, and WR Keshawn Martin all combined for 370 carries, 2,107 yards, and 24 TDs. All three running backs and a wide receiver combined barely reached the goal that Baker has set for himself. Baker will not be featured more this year. Le'Veon Bell got 107 carries as a freshman and should get more this year as a sophomore. He looks absolutely huge. He says he only gained maybe 5 pounds from last year. He's listed at 6-2 237 and looks every bit of it. Larry Caper was the go-to back as a freshman, then was hurt most of last year and relegated to mostly 3rd down service. Also now this year you have to factor Nick Hill into the mix.
Baker carried the ball 207 times for 1,201 yards and 14 TDs last year. What does he need to do this year to reach his goal of 2,000 yards with 21 TDs? "Run hard every game. Not slow down. Get over 100 yards every game. 2 touchdowns a game. That’s not impossible" Baker told me. No, it's not impossible, it's just extremely unlikely. As he said, "I feel that the goal is very reachable. My coaches haven’t really told me it’s not reachable."
When he told me that and I was sitting 3 feet away from him at a table, I definitely believed he could. While I don't think he'll break any single season records (Bell should get goal line carries to get TDs), he could quietly end up with some of the best career numbers at MSU. If he gets 2,500 yards in the next two seasons combined that will put him comfortably in 4th in the yards records books closing in on Tico Duckett's 4,212.
If he does reach his goal it will be another Championship season for the Spartans and Baker knows it. When I asked him where the team can expect to be if he reaches the goal? "In the National Championship Game!" That I agree with 100%.
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