JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman running back Brandon Baker (Miami, Fla.) has been tabbed as the 36th best player in the nation by d2football.com. Baker has already been named a preseason All-American by the USA Football Network.
In 2012, Baker made two All-American teams and was a first team All-SAC selection.
A two-time SAC offensive player of the week last year, Baker's 1,468-yard rushing season marked the third best year for an Eagle on the ground in Carson-Newman history.
"Some might wonder why one year of production would put him higher than many who have had multiple years of production," the website wrote. "But in 2011 he was averaging 6.9 yards per carry before suffering a season-ending injury in the second game."
Only Buck Wakefield (1,515 yards in 2009) and Kenneth Tyson (1,867 yards in 1987) rank in front of Baker's season. He finished the year with 122 yards per game – tops in the SAC and 17th best nationally. Baker's 8.25 yards a carry were the best in the nation for anyone with more than 100 carries in 2012. He's also the first C-N back this century to rush for more than eight yards a carry with more than 100 carries in a season.
"It's a great feeling to be recognized," Baker said. "But the credit goes to my coaches. They've helped me grow over the years and help me become the man I am today."
Baker finished the year with four straight games with more than 140 yards on the ground. The junior has 2,452 yards for his career – 1,704 away from Robert Thomas' (1988-1991) career record of 4,156. Baker finished the season with 13 touchdowns. He rushed for a career high 219 yards and three scores in the Eagles' opener against Glenville State (8/30).
"You just have be humble about it," Baker said. "You've got to go to work each day as hard as you can. I've got a clean slate this year. If I don't work hard each day and try to better myself, then those expectations don't matter."
Carson-Newman was 7-1 in games in which he rushed for 100 yards. Came within a touchdown of the single game scoring record with four rushing touchdowns against Tusculum (11/3). Rushed for 104 yards against L-R (9/15), 121 versus Catawba (10/6), 102 at UNCP (10/20), 185 at Tusculum (11/3), 190 in the regular season finale versus Mars Hill (11/10), 145 against L-R in the second round of the playoffs (11/24) and 155 in the quarterfinals against Valdosta State (12/1). Caught his first career pass for 18 yards against Tusculum. Baker only fumbled once on 178 carries.
The Eagles open the season Sept. 5 against Wayne State at 7 p.m. at Burke-Tarr Stadium.