Playing under Mike Leach is a dream come true for any college wide receiver. The question each Saturday in the fall isn't if a Cougar receiver will have an 100-yard game, it's who will have an 100-yard game. With the Cougars loaded in the wide receiver department, Tyler Baker could be a critical piece for Washington State's receiving corps.
Baker got his first glimpse of game action last season despite it being his fourth year as a NCAA student-athlete. He redshirted his first year in 2011 at Ole Miss before transferring to WSU in 2012. Per NCAA rules, he sat out for the 2012 season and in 2013 didn't see any playing time. Baker appeared minimally on special teams for Washington State last season before emerging as a slot receiver when River Cracraft got hurt. Baker's best game came in Corvallis when he and Luke Falk teamed up for some serious quarterback-wide receiver chemistry. Baker had nine receptions for 113 yards and a 21-yard touchdown catch (should have had two TD's, the play was whistled dead during his second one) in Washington State's 39-32 win over the Beavers. He finished the year with 27 receptions, 308 yards, and two touchdowns in five games.
If Washington State wants to make it back to another bowl game in 2015, they'll need production out of Baker in his redshirt senior season. He was listed as the backup to Cracraft at the 'Y' receiver on the post-spring depth chart and that's unlikely to change going into fall camp, barring another injury. Despite being a second-stringer, Baker should still have plenty of opportunities to make plays for WSU.
One big question
How much playing time will he get? Obviously, Washington State has gotten great production out of the 'Y' in the past two seasons thanks to Cracraft. However, the Oregon State game proved to us that Baker has the skill set to replicate Cracraft's workload. When he does check in to the game, opposing defenses may be surprised at the yardage he'll be able to rack up against them.
Name - Tyler Baker
Position - Wide receiver
Year - Redshirt senior
Height/weight - 5'10, 181 pounds
Hometown - Bullard, Texas