ESPN 300 safety Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) got a head start on signing day. The nation's No. 122 overall prospect pushed his commitment forward from Wednesday morning to Tuesday night so that he could declare his commitment on local news station KING 5, where Baker announced that he will stay home and sign with the Washington Huskies.
"I'll be going to the University of Washington," Baker said while donning a Huskies hat and revealing a Washington shirt. "Family always comes first. I'll be close to my family and they'll be able to come see me play. It's a true blessing."
It's a huge recruiting win for head coach Chris Petersen, who was able to reel in arguably his top two in-state targets this week in Baker and offensive tackle Kaleb McGary (Fife, Wash./Fife). Baker had been committed to Oregon but dropped his pledge last month and focused his attention on UCLA and Washington. As signing day drew near, all the momentum swung to the Huskies. While Baker didn't shock many with his announcement on Tuesday night, it's still a huge commitment for Petersen and his staff.
Baker is already something of a local legend, as the 5-foot-9, 174-pound, two-way standout had his jersey retired at Bellevue High School following his senior season and gives this Washington class a true headliner in Petersen's first haul. Baker also gives the Huskies some significant momentum heading into signing day, which seemed far-fetched when Petersen initially took over a class with only eight commitments that was reeling following the departure of Steve Sarkisian. But Petersen worked diligently to first flip several recruits who were committed to Pac-12 schools, including UCLA and Washington State, then brought a few recruits with him from the Boise State class. He also made a splash in landing ESPN 300 quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels (San Jose, Calif./Bellarmine Prep), who decommitted from Vanderbilt.
But it's likely that no recruit in the 2014 haul will mean more to Washington fans or the Huskies depth chart next season than Baker, who will likely have the opportunity to compete immediately at safety and perhaps chip in on the offensive side of the ball as well. His commitment marks the first time the Huskies have kept the top in-state player home since the 2011 class, when Washington signed wide receiver Kasen Williams.