Before reaching All-American status, Deandre Baker had to go through some early bumps in the road at Georgia to get to the level he is at today.
Baker, who was initially recruited by the previous coaching staff, wasn’t a highly recruited cornerback nationally coming in as only a 3 star.
This rating didn’t deter Kirby Smart from assessing his talent at Alabama, but they ultimately decided not to recruit him heavily. Smart would be the first one to tell you how things have changed.
“We evaluated him at Alabama,” Smart said. “We thought he was a really good player. We didn’t pursue him as hard as we did some other guys. We were probably wrong. He had track speed. He was a 400-meter guy; he could fly. The first things you look at with corner are size, speed – he checked off both boxes there, but he’s a kid who’s developed and has gotten better.”
In 2016 as a sophomore Baker was working his way up the depth chart. Eventually, Baker got his opportunity to start after a rough showing for the Bulldogs against Ole Miss, and he turned his game into another gear.
“From the time we got here, we thought he was a good player,” Smart said. “We thought some guys were in front of him. I was telling him the other day, ‘I remember it like it was yesterday’ – During training camp that first year, he was really competing for that starting job with (Juwuan) Briscoe and some other guys. We went with the other guys, and what happened, happened at the Ole Miss game. He got to go out there, and ever since then, he’s gotten better and competed and proved us wrong that he should’ve been out there the whole time.”
Since then Baker has started every single game and hasn’t given a touchdown up to an opposing receiver since the 2016 Liberty bowl against TCU.
He’s also coming off an impressive performance dominating South Carolina’s best receiver Deebo Samuel where he recorded his first interception of the season.
He held him to 6 receptions for 33 yards. Baker had more interception return yards (56) then Deebo Samuel had receiving yards.
The development and tutelage under Kirby Smart have Baker well on his way to a spectacular senior season and becoming a first-round draft pick.