There was an underlying current that seemingly drew Livonia defensive end Willie Baker to Louisiana Tech for as long as he could remember.
Whether it was because his two primary recruiters — Blake Baker or Joe Sloan — set a foundation during the early stages of his recruiting process, Willie Baker had a high enough opinion that eventually led him to commit to the Bulldogs on Saturday evening.
“I’ve been feeling good about Tech even before they offered,” Baker said. “Just the way the coaches approached me; showed me their system. I felt like I’ve always been a Bulldog even before I told them. I told (Louisiana Tech) I was going to be a family member next year. I feel real good about it, and I feel good about the decision.”
Baker, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder, confirmed his intentions with Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz after an unofficial visit to the Ruston campus Saturday, becoming the 15th member of the Bulldogs current recruiting class.
“I just feel like it really fit,” Baker said. “The school’s in more a rural area, kind of like in an area I grew up in, and I like it like that. I liked the facilities they’ve just built. It’s compatible with those in the SEC.
“I really feel like Louisiana Tech is on the rise, and I love the coaches,” Baker said. “They have a winning attitude and all have positive attitudes.”
Baker, a three-star prospect and nation’s No. 27 weak-side defensive end by 247 Sports, selected Louisiana Tech over Arkansas, Illinois, UL-Lafayette, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
“The school name doesn’t matter,” said Baker, who also made unofficial visits to LSU and Auburn. “A lot of people want to go the SEC. I feel like I wanted to go somewhere that fit me, and I’m going to stay there. I was looking at what I needed and what was best for me to succeed. I believe Louisiana Tech was that place.”
Baker’s played an instrumental part in the rise of Livonia’s program the past two years, culminating last season in a 14-0 record and Class 3A state championship. He was a first-team All-State selection with 97 tackles, 12 sacks and six forced fumbles.
“We’re really excited for Willie and feel like Louisiana Tech is a great fit for him,” Livonia coach Guy Mistretta said. “He’s a small-town, family-first guy, and that’s a big influence in his decision.”
With the start of the season two weeks away, Baker got his first look Saturday at the school’s campus and facilities and watched the Bulldogs scrimmage.
It didn’t hurt the Bulldogs’ chances that former Livonia standout Russell Farris, a sophomore linebacker at Louisiana Tech and Baker’s cousin, served as a tour guide and helped sell the program.
“That will help me and give me an advantage,” Baker said of having Farris there. “I won’t feel so lost. I’ll get straight to the point, start working and hopefully become great.”