Deandre Baker is a leader by example for Georgia’s secondary. The senior defensive back quietly earned his starting role last season and now is one of the leaders. Head coach Kirby Smart states that what he brings to the table positively influences the young players in the secondary.
Smart stated that he has a lot of experience and has been around a while. Baker played in 12 games in 2016 and earned a starting spot in 2017. He has 26 starts and counting since becoming a contributor in 2016. The head coach notes that his ability to understand the system and offensive football has helped him develop into the player he is now.
“He is a competitor. He rises to the moment, probably plays better in games than he does in practice, and plays hard,” Smart said. “He understands our system. He understands offensive football. And he’s playing hard right now.”
One thing Smart notes is that he improved on is his tackling since last season. Despite the growth in the previous three years, Smart wants more out of him. The more he can get out of Baker the more it’ll help the young defensive backs once he leaves.
“We gotta continue to get that out of him, and we need him to be a bigger influence on some of the other DBs, a positive influence on them, whether it’s Tyson (Campbell), (Eric) Stokes, Mark Webb or Ameer (Speed). He can help affect those guys,” Smart comments.
One of the things that Smart wants out of Baker this season is for him to come out of his shell. He has the confidence but keeps to himself and is a quiet guy. For him to influence the young guys, Smart wants him to open up and share his knowledge and experience as a Bulldog.
‘’I think confidence and talking to them. I think so many players in the secondary look up to D-Bake because he’s such a talent, that he can affect those guys the right way. Maybe the way he prepares for the game or the way he goes about the game,” Smart says. “D-Bake keeps to himself. He’s a quiet guy and he doesn’t really want to share much information. He just wants to go play, and he enjoys playing the game.”
One of those young guys that look up to him is, Richard LeCounte. Baker is like a mentor to the sophomore defensive back who started one game last year and all five this season. He looks up to Baker and like Smart comments that his leadership shows on and off the field.
“Dre is a great mentor for me. He’s a lead by example kind of guy, doesn’t really say much,” LeCounte said. “As you can see very effectively with during our secondary as far as leadership having guys where we need to be on the field and off the field coaching us because he has been through it. He’s having a lot of success and practicing with him is a great pleasure.”
Baker is the senior leader of the secondary and is an excellent example of what hard work gets you at Georgia. If anything these young players can look at how he worked his tail off to become a starter and use that strategy to eventually get them on the field.