Monday, November 11, 2013

Shifty Baker Chooses UMBC

Football helped elevate Ryan Baker’s NCAA lacrosse stock.

Ever since the 5-foot-8 Baker ripped off a tackle-breaking 30-yard run during the Huskers’ season-opening win against Walter Panas, he defied stereotypes about the undersized.

Baker seized a starting role on the Huskers’ varsity football team, emerging as a double duty quarterback capable of absorbing the most punishing of hits.

Operating as a central piece of Mike Rescingo’s running assault, Baker personified the balance that led Yorktown (7-3) to signature wins over Harrison and Sleepy Hollow in a recent Class A bowl game.

Toting the toughness of a bar room brawling, tattoo-drenched thug, Baker never withered under the weight of increased contact. He was hit hard, hit by players nearly 100+ pounds bigger than him. He was hit with ferocity, tackled like a smurf scurrying through a land of Giants.

Like a pinball bouncing around, Baker emerged unscathed. So much for the “he’s too small” comments that the self-proclaimed ‘gurus’ may have dropped.

 Baker passed for 533 yards and rushed for 539, churning out seven touchdowns with just one turnover.

The savvy helped quash NCAA programs’ fears about Baker’s leafy 145-pound frame.

Baker has been referenced, by his teammates and coaches, as a “little energizer bunny.”

You see, Ryan Baker likely won’t ever be asked to lay out the biggest guy on the field or pancake a 300-pound lineman.

His shiftiness and cerebral playmaking decisions, however, helps render Baker a catalyst on both the gridiron and the turf.

Similar to former Lakeland/Panas middie Robbie Caffrey (now at Providence) what Baker lacks in size he makes up for in boundless energy.

Under head coach Dave Marr, Baker has augmented his durability and evolved into a more versatile threat.

A veritable NCAA launching pad, Yorktown’s senior class has finalized their collegiate plans.

 Baker and junior Nick Delbene, who will join former Yorktown midfielder Justin Mabus at Towson, have surfaced as early commitments.

Baker’s quickness helped lift Yorktown to a 2013 Section I championship in a thorough, 17-3 dismantling of John Jay.

While Yorktown was lauded for hanging another banner in the gym, Marr and the coaching staff reminded them the road ahead would not be the same.

The Huskers fell to Niskayuna, 13-11, in the NYS regional semifinal at SUNY Albany.

Baker, like so many of his teammates have done recently, finalized his college decision. The junior made a verbal pledge to attend University of Maryland– Baltimore County this week.

With the decision, Baker closes out a recruiting process which included several Division-I programs, Siena, Albany, UMass, and Providence, to name a few.

Steve Settembrino, the Yorktown product who has ascended the coaching ranks, is an assistant at UMBC, where he authored a four-year playing career.

Settimbrino coached at Mercyhurst (Pa.), Arlington (Va.) and Binghamton, climbing the totem poll and landing back at UMBC.

It was Settimbrino, an All-American at Yorktown in 2004, who helped sell Baker on top-notch academics and the burgeoning lacrosse hotbed of Baltimore.

With Towson, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, and numerous lacrosse schools nearby, the Baltimore area breeds lacrosse culture.

The lacrosse stick is as vital to Baltimore as the Spalding basketball is to New York City, as the puck is in the hockey hotbed of Canada.

The city truly carries a torch for lacrosse, with a budding “who’s who” of sought after recruits steadily rising through the ranks.

Settembrino, a defenseman at UMBC, was part of four teams that garnered four consecutive NCAA tournament bids.  

Now Settembrino considerable upper hand in recruiting his star-spangled alma mater.

He took full advantage of his hometown connection, actively pursuing and netting Baker.

The Retrievers earned a berth in the America East championship last season.