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Why UW safety Budda Baker’s weight gain is a good thing for Huskies

Budda Baker, the Huskies’ star free safety, dedicated himself to eating more — and eating more healthy food — this offseason. The result is an added 18 pounds to his 5-foot-10 frame.

Adam Jude
By 
Seattle Times staff reporter

Budda Baker is willing to do whatever it takes to gain an edge (and a pound) for the Washington defense, even if it means eating the occasional vegetable.

Baker, the Huskies’ star free safety, dedicated himself to eating more — and eating more healthy food — this offseason. The result is an added 18 pounds to his 5-foot-10 frame — up to 192 now at the start of fall camp this week, weight that he expects will help him withstand the physical toll of a 12-game regular season.

“I’ve gained a lot of weight,” he said, “and feel a lot faster and stronger.”

While the rest of us are doing what we can to drop a few pounds here and there, Baker had the opposite problem his first two years on campus.

He arrived at UW weighing 167 pounds, yet still started every game as a true freshman. Last year, he weighed about 174 pounds during the season and took almost constant ribbing from defensive-backs coach Jimmy Lake.

Baker wasn’t the only one: Lake regularly checked in on cornerback Jordan Miller, who weighed 158 pounds when he arrived on campus last year. Miller’s up to 176 and can’t easily hide behind a light pole anymore.

Lake has asked team dietician Ema Thake to provide protein shakes for all the defensive backs during position-group meetings, mandating that the athletes finish the shakes before the end of the session.

“It was a fun offseason, and the guys took it the right way,” Lake said. “They took it seriously, and I think it’s going to translate into them having a little more force behind their hits now — and it should keep them healthy, too.”

How’d Baker gain all the weight? A sampling of his menu this offseason:

• Rise-and-dine: In the morning, one of the first things Baker does is drink an Advocare food-replacement chocolate shake, which the company touts has 24 grams (and 220 calories) of “easy-to-digest protein.”

 

• Before a morning workout at the team’s facility, he has a bagel and Muscle Milk.

• After the workout, he joins teammates at the athletes’ main dining hall inside the Conibear Shellhouse. His favorite breakfast there is an omelet with bacon, cheese and ham and a side of fruit (cantaloupe or pineapple, please). Plus water. Lots of water.

• Thake puts together snack bags for the players to munch on during classes and meetings, and Baker is especially fond of the 3.17-ounce organic apple sauce pouches (available in boxes of 24 from Costco, and a staple for small children and skinny safeties everywhere). He snacks on Goldfish crackers, too, but he’d prefer to stay away from any vegetables.

“I try to get a vegetable in there sometimes,” he said, “but I don’t really like them.”

• Lunch is his favorite. Ideally, he’s able to load up a big meal from Chipotle or Q-Doba — “with extra meat,” to pack on the protein.

• In the afternoon, more snacking.

 

• For dinner, another big meal, of course, often some kind of spaghetti or chicken fettuccini.

In addition to the pounds, he credits Thake for giving him gain a better understanding of nutrition in general.

“Ema’s helped us a lot,” he said. “She’s really helped us realize what we’re putting in our bodies.”

Will it add more thump to his hits, make him more durable and keep him just as fast this fall? That’s the goal, anyway.

Until then, he’ll have to, um, “weight” and see what works.

 

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The more I watch of Budda, the more I want him in the red and black. In my opinion, he's a perfect fit as FS in our scheme. I just don't know if we should take him in the first though. Budda lasting to our 2nd round pick would be the best of best case scenarios.

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12 hours ago, Arkridge said:

The more I watch of Budda, the more I want him in the red and black. In my opinion, he's a perfect fit as FS in our scheme. I just don't know if we should take him in the first though. Budda lasting to our 2nd round pick would be the best of best case scenarios.

I'm not big on drafting a free safety in the first two rounds but Budda would be perfect. I doubt he's going to even make it to our first after the combine

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I'm not implying anything about this statement, but I find it interesting that the only NFL post he had on his twitter timeline this season was the one of Matt Ryan throwing a TD pass to Joshua Perkins. I understand they were in town for the bowl game, but he could have easily twitted about the Seahawks since they both play in the same state of Washington. 

Again if Marcus Williams is off the board I wouldn't be opposed to having two Huskies (Tru and Baker) in the secondary.

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11 minutes ago, Cole World said:

I'm not implying anything about this statement, but I find it interesting that the only NFL post he had on his twitter timeline this season was the one of Matt Ryan throwing a TD pass to Joshua Perkins. I understand they were in town for the bowl game, but he could have easily twitted about the Seahawks since they both play in the same state of Washington. 

Again if Marcus Williams is off the board I wouldn't be opposed to having two Huskies (Tru and Baker) in the secondary.

Perkins is a former Huskie.

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He did awesome man. On basically Alabamas first possession he made this brilliant play. 

1st and 10 - Reads the quarterbacks eyes beautifully. Very intelligent play here, has an underneath coverage but he decides to follow the quarterbacks eyes. He makes a great play on the ball and he almost gets an interception. 

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8 hours ago, A-TowN.- said:

He did awesome man. On basically Alabamas first possession he made this brilliant play. 

1st and 10 - Reads the quarterbacks eyes beautifully. Very intelligent play here, has an underneath coverage but he decides to follow the quarterbacks eyes. He makes a great play on the ball and he almost gets an interception. 

He almost had a pick in one of those early drives as well, he looked really good that game.

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The scoop: "I would leave him as a centerfielder and then roll him down over the slot if you needed too. He's too small to cover tight ends, but he's got great instincts in coverage, which is why he should shine as a single-high." -- NFC area scout on Washington safety Budda Baker

The skinny: I think we can all agree that Baker plays the game like his hair is on fire. That's a compliment, by the way. However, I'm not sure that teams will all see him as a single-high safety. Baker is so active and so fast near the line of scrimmage that it almost seems like a team would be limiting his effectiveness if it played him primarily on the back end. Regardless of where he ends up playing, Baker should have an instant impact whenever he enters the league (he's a junior) and could be a starter right away

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14 hours ago, ike barn87987 said:

The scoop: "I would leave him as a centerfielder and then roll him down over the slot if you needed too. He's too small to cover tight ends, but he's got great instincts in coverage, which is why he should shine as a single-high." -- NFC area scout on Washington safety Budda Baker

The skinny: I think we can all agree that Baker plays the game like his hair is on fire. That's a compliment, by the way. However, I'm not sure that teams will all see him as a single-high safety. Baker is so active and so fast near the line of scrimmage that it almost seems like a team would be limiting his effectiveness if it played him primarily on the back end. Regardless of where he ends up playing, Baker should have an instant impact whenever he enters the league (he's a junior) and could be a starter right away

Baker is a lot like Keanu Neal for me. Atlanta should have a 1st round grade on him. But most other teams should have a mid-2nd on him.

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On 1/5/2017 at 9:58 AM, Scott Carasik said:

Baker is a lot like Keanu Neal for me. Atlanta should have a 1st round grade on him. But most other teams should have a mid-2nd on him.

That's a way of looking at it that I hadn't thought of. It seems scheme trumps all on Quinn's defense. He felt Keanu Neal was a perfect fit (he is) which is what pushed him up our draft board to the point that we almost traded up for him when most teams still had an early second round grade on him. It could very well be the same with Budda.

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