July 3, 2013

Dawgs get 12th commit

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It was shortly after Georgia offered Marist defensive lineman Kendall Baker that he took a visit to Athens.

Little did many know that particular visit would essentially spell the end of Baker's recruitment, as the Bulldogs became his leader that day and it was a lead Georgia never relinquished.

On Wednesday, the versatile four-star prospect became the 12th member of Georgia's 2014 recruiting class by committing to the Bulldogs.

"I'm committing to the University of Georgia," Baker told UGASports.

The 6-foot-6, 297 pounder discussed the main reason he chose the Bulldogs over a number of other offers including Auburn, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Vanderbilt.

"I want to play in front of the home crowd," he said. "I grew up here. I grew up watching Georgia. I have family and friends here and they would be able to see me. Then when I went up there, it felt like I was a part of the family there. Ever since Georgia offered me, they recruited me hard. They recruited me as hard as any school throughout the process."

During the recruiting process, Baker was able to form a close bond with a number of Georgia coaches. His relationship with those UGA staffers also played into his decision.

"I'm really close with Coach (Chris) Wilson, Coach (Bryan) McClendon, and Coach (Mark) Richt," Baker said. "All three of those coaches have formed a good relationship with me and I have talked to them a lot. They are really cool, nice guys and hopefully I can get that type of relationship with everyone up there."

The Atlanta area blue chipper also believes that Athens and the University of Georgia is a natural fit for him as he has a number of existing relationships with current Georgia players.

He is also close with a number of members of the Bulldogs' 2014 recruiting class.

"I fit in really well there," he said. "I know a lot of people already up there. I know a lot of guys in my class that are already committed to the University of Georgia. I know those guys and we know each other. We have played together in games like Rising Seniors and the Junior All-American game. Guys like Detric (Dukes), Jeb (Blazevich), Sony (Michel), and Nick (Glass). We have played together and know how each other plays. We already have that relationship so I feel like we will gel together well."

Georgia gained an early lead in Baker's recruitment, but that doesn't mean that the Bulldogs didn't have some serious competition along the way.

The Rivals250 prospect says that Georgia's oldest rival gave the Baker plenty to think about. It was, however, Baker's desire to play football in his home state that gave Georgia the edge.

"The whole time I was being recruited, Auburn was right there - neck and neck," Baker said. "The one thing that set Georgia apart was the fact that Georgia is my home state. Georgia is where I can play in front of my friends and family and represent my home state school. That is just how I am. It really set Georgia apart."

Now that he has joined UGA's class of 2014 commitments, Baker plans to help the staff recruit other Peach State players to Athens.

"Of course I am going to try and recruit some guys and guys that I know have UGA near the top," he said. "Me and Nick (Chubb) talked about committing to Georgia before he did. Detric, I knew he was going to. I'm going to talk to Elisha (Shaw) some more and try get him to commit to Georgia."

He also has high expectations of himself when he gets to the Classic City in regards to work ethic and ability to see the field.

"I want to work hard," Baker said. "Hopefully I can get up there and get in the rotation early. I want earn a role as a starter but I know that is a lot of hard work. Right now, I just want to get to Georgia, work hard, and have the opportunity to get on the playing field and help my team wherever I can."

And what about a message for the Bulldog faithful who hope to see Baker play Between the Hedges in 2014 and beyond?

"I just want to say that I love all of them (Georgia fans)," he said. "I'm happy to have a chance to be playing in front of them for the next three, four, or five years, however long I'll be up there. Hopefully we will have a great journey."

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