FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — At what he does, Toby Baker is one of the best players on the Arkansas football team.
But he isn’t used to the applause he’s been getting lately.
“It’s pretty weird,” Baker said after Tuesday’s practice. “Usually you don’t get a crowd to cheer for a punter.
“It’s usually just, ‘Yeah, OK, that’s great.’”
The senior has been excellent this season. His 47.3 yards per punt rank fifth in the country and he is a candidate for this year’s Ray Guy Award.
“It’s an honor to be mentioned with that award,” Baker said. “Obviously, I’d love to win that award, but I’m not really worried about winning the Ray Guy or being in that conversation.
“I’m really just worried about myself and going out there every day and practicing what I need to work on, knowing what I did wrong on every rep and knowing what I need to do to get better.”
Ray Guy Award candidates will be announced Oct. 30, with semifinalists selected Nov. 11 and finalists set Nov. 22.
As for the cheering, Baker laughed and credited some of his friends for that trend.
He said that several of his non-football friends sit in the stands and, when Baker comes onto the field, go wild.
Fans around them yell back, “We’re punting right now! Why are you cheering?”
“I know, but that’s my friend!”
Laughing, Baker said, “My friends always say that maybe they’ve helped out.”