Things are finally starting to get real for wide receiver Chuck Baker (Slidell, La./Salmen).
It's been the better part of a year since the 6-foot-2, 190-pound wideout began to turn heads in Louisiana with his physical style. It's been more than seven months since he committed to LSU's 2013 class on Feb. 4, making him the second commit for this year. It's easy to forget about the end game after that much time in limbo.
But that wait is finally over. Baker is two games into his senior season, with just a handful of months before he can officially sign with LSU. He said that fact hit home for him when he watched LSU pound Idaho from the sidelines last Saturday night.
"I just want to keep going to LSU so I can stay familiar with the people I'll be hanging with in the near future," he said.
Baker is the latest in a litany of LSU commitments to make the trip to Baton Rouge to take in the Tigers' season. Whether it's regular visitors like ESPN 150 cornerback Jeryl Brazil (Loranger, La./Loranger), or other commits like Baker, who has only made one trip, the program puts a premium on acclimating its future players as early as possible. That works especially well for longtime commits like Baker, and Brazil, who was the first commit for 2013.
"It was a good trip. I got a chance to hang out with my dude Jeryl again," Baker said. "Every time I go up there I look forward to hanging out with him because we were two of the first commits."
The two were also regulars on campus this past summer, when they camped with LSU in both June and July. Baker is an ESPN 300 member, and his ranking of No. 182 makes him LSU's seventh-best prospect among 22 commits. But he said he's still got a lot of proving to do before he starts the next phase of his career. The time spent around LSU has helped with that.
"I don't get a chance to see a lot of competition from DB's every day at my school -- there's really only about two guys I can get looks from," Baker said. "So it was really good that I could get looks from some of the top DBs that were at the LSU camps, so I can know how to measure myself and how much more I need to work on myself as a wide receiver. That helped me out a lot to where I am now and it's gotten me a whole lot better."
Baker's physicality as a blocker has earned him a reputation in Louisiana. Questions remain about his abilities has a big-play threat, however, since Salmen has struggled in the passing game in recent seasons. The early returns for 2012 -- eight receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns in two games -- are favorable.
"I've improved on a couple of things. LSU said they wanted to see how I do on the deep ball, and reporters have said they wanted to see how I do on the deep ball. I've been doing well with that," he said. "I've grabbed a lot of 30-yard catches, because my quarterback has really been throwing it out there for me."
The Spartans should get a good test of Baker's skills this weekend when they travel to play Class 4A runner-up Edna Karr. Salmen downed the Cougars last fall, and Baker said he's optimistic about a repeat performance.
The Tigers will probably be seeing a bit more of Baker as the stakes get higher. He said he intends to be at the mega-tilt with No. 1 Alabama in November, and he'd like to make the trip with his father for the game against No. 8 South Carolina. With the decision-making long out of the way, it's all about getting comfortable.
"You've got to get to know the people you're going to be around the next three to four years," he said.