Millis/Hopedale coach Dale Olmstead recalled Jon Baker's first varsity action a year and a half ago, starting at center as a freshman for the Mohawks, and reflected on a 250-pound kid throwing both hands in the air and letting out a howl as he got down in his stance.
A year and a half later, Olmstead sees a kid who shows up at UMass' junior day, and impresses enough to move on coach to utter, "Maybe we don't have to redshirt this kid."
Baker, a Class of 2014 offensive line prospect and Millis resident, still has two more years with the Mohawks, but he's already making waves. UMass head coach Charley Molnar became the first Division 1 FBS coach to extend a verbal scholarship offer this afternoon to the 6-foot-4, 300-pound sophomore.
The Minutemen first reached out to Olmstead two months ago for film. They invited Baker to their Junior Day last month at Gillette Stadium, and his combination of physique and athleticism immediately impressed. Baker wears his frame lean, demonstrates good footwork, and tests well for a 16-year-old -- reportedly, Baker runs a 5.1-second 40-yard dash, benches over 400 and squats over 500.
"He actually looks lighter right now than he did last year, but he's already 15 pounds heavier," Olmstead said.
Off the field, Baker carries a 4.0 grade point average, further speaking to a maturity beyond his years.
"He's just so motivated and so focused for such a young man," Olmstead said. "I've never seen anything like this in my 22 years. He gets it, and he got it from the first game.
"This kid has been playing every game like it's his last, and he just keeps better and better."
Boston College has also been showing interest in Baker, and had him on campus for their Junior Day last February. Both programs currently project him right now as either a center or guard, due to his IQ and mobility.
"He's one of those kids that I say, 'Jon, take a break, take a week off'," Olmstead said. "And he says, 'I don't see the point'. He always wants to become something better, and I think UMass saw that in him."