BLOG: Shortly after we ran the article on Tyler Baker committing to play football at Ole Miss I had a chance to chat with the athlete’s trainer, Bob Stroupe.It may be an understatement to say that Stroupe is one of Baker’s biggest advocates, that much was obvious during our brief phone interview on Monday.
Q: How’d the visit to Oxford go?
A: We wanted to check out the opportunity at Ole Miss. We went on a visit and it was just a great visit. Coach Nutt talked to him for about 45 minutes in his office and it felt like he was really wanted.
Q: Surprised Ole Miss showed interest in Baker?
A: I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he was going to get an opportunity in the SEC mainly because of his school, not his ability. I know kids in the Big 12 that couldn’t hold his jock.
Q: Does Baker feel like he’s been stereotyped?
A: The way things have played out and the disrespect he’s had… This kid, he doesn’t talk about it openly, but he’s got a list of schools that took a look at him and turned him down. To say he has a chip on his shoulder is an understatement. He’s going to be a good teammate. People are going to love him.
Q: Did the coaching staff mention Jesse Grandy departing from the program while they recruited Baker?
A: When we were first contacted, they did say they just parted ways with their slot receiver and that they had some question marks with some of the guys coming in, who are outside guys anyway. One of the things Tyler was concerned about was he wanted to come in and compete to return. He could play in the return game. He has excellent vision and balance. He had 19 career interceptions so he could play on defense, but he’s so good with the ball in his hands. He could also compete in the Wild Rebel.
Q: What gave Ole Miss the advantage over some of the other schools offering preferred walkon spots like UCLA and Boise State?
A: I think the fact they never hesitated on his evaluation and presented a clear plan. When Ole Miss called it was immediately, ‘we like your film.’ It wasn’t, ‘we like your film, but the competition is bad and we’re worried about your size.’ The fact that they’ve been up front and they’ve been direct and more aggressive.
(Stroupe went on to describe how Baker was invited to Oklahoma State for last year’s spring game with a potential offer on the table, but the offer fell through. Also mentioned that Texas A&M said they’d give him an offer if a junior college player did not qualify… but he did.)
Q: Is Baker set on coming to Ole Miss? He hasn’t signed a LOI, so he could actually end up somewhere else.
A: If someone came back and offered, like Boise State, he wouldn’t take it.
Q: Talk about Baker when he gets the ball. What does he do well?
A: The kid is a jitter bug. He doesn’t even run full speed, he kind of waits on people. He does things I’ve never seen before. Johnny Knox was one of my kids coming up and (Baker) does everything better than Johnny except for running straight ahead. That’s it. People are going to see and I won’t have to talk about him anymore.
Baker is expected to arrive in Oxford for the first summer session.
—Here is the article that ran in Monday’s Oxford EAGLE: Baker looking to prove critics wrong. (March 9, 2011)