Elliot Baker spoke with Nick Saban in his office around 8 p.m ET and gave him the news that he was committing to Alabama. He didn’t release the news on Twitter until after midnight. What took so long to announce his decision?
Well, Baker was celebrating his commitment with City College of San Francisco (Calif.) offensive line coach Eduardo Nuno at a local Tuscaloosa Waffle House.
“That was really about all I did to celebrate,” Baker told SEC Country. “I just wanted to keep it low key. I got bacon, hash browns, three eggs and three waffles.”
Yes, he somehow ate all of that.
Baker weighed in at 295 pounds at Alabama’s camp Monday and that was after practicing all day in the heat. He joked that after the Waffle House trip, he was probably around 320 pounds.
“Seriously, I feel like I’m around there after that (meal),” Baker said.
It was a long road for Baker to end up at that Waffle House.
Coming out of Archbishop Riordan High School (San Francisco), Baker held zero scholarship offers. He didn’t hit a sudden growth spurt leading to the 18 offers he has now. Baker, who stands at 6-foot-7, was 6-foot-6 in high school. To this day, no one has told him why he wasn’t discovered.
Once he got to City College of San Francisco, Baker made it his mission to get an offer from Alabama. That happened in April.
“Alabama has been a dream school of mine from about a year ago this time from when I started playing my freshman year (at City College),” Baker said. “I asked my offensive line coach, ‘What do I need to do to go to Alabama to play there and get a scholarship?’ It’s always been a school that I’ve wanted to go to. Seeing the place in person is just crazy. It felt right.”
He thought about committing to Alabama back in April when the Tide extended a scholarship his way, but he chose not to in order to evaluate other schools. Baker took an official visit to Oregon last week and told reporters he nearly committed.
That changed once he got to Tuscaloosa.
“I grew up watching SEC football and Alabama has always been that school that has always been really intriguing to me,” Baker said. “The amount of guys they send to the NFL is incredible. Coach Saban has had so many accomplishments and success in his eight years there. It’s a football factory.”
— Elliot (@elliot_baker) June 7, 2016
City College of San Francisco is a football factory in its own right, too. Baker’s team saw 11 of its players sign with FBS schools in 2015 and six in 2016. The Rams won its 10th junior college football national title in 2016.
One of the reasons why he chose Alabama was to continue his college career for a winning program. When he spoke to Saban Monday night, the five-time national championship-winning coach told Baker what it’s going to take to win more rings when he gets to Alabama.
“He laid out the process for me,” Baker said of Saban. “Everyone sees all the rings and everything, but he told me about the process of what makes that all happen. The players have to buy into this to make what you see on TV possible.”
Baker’s coach, Jimmy Collins, has seen Baker buy into his process at City College of San Francisco. He knows Baker has the talent to succeed at Alabama.
“He always expects to win,” Collins said. “He epitomizes being a winner, and I think Alabama just landed a gem. I know we at City College of San Francisco are very lucky to have him.”
Baker said his recruitment is officially over. No school will be able to change his mind and college trips elsewhere are finished. He said he’ll be unfollowing coaches that do not coach at Alabama when he gets the chance.
“It’s my dream school,” Baker said. It’s the place I’ve wanted to be at ever since I put on shoulder pads and a helmet. I now just want to focus on my grades and help my team win another national championship. The recruiting process was pretty overwhelming to me — all of the phone calls and doing media was a lot.”
Even though no NCAA school gave Baker a chance coming out of high school, he thought playing for the nation’s top program was in reach. He never stopped believing in himself and it finally paid off Monday night.
“I had my mind set on Alabama a year ago,” Baker said. “I talked to my coach about it back then. I know I have all of the tools and the athletic ability to get here. I definitely thought it was possible.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.