Tight End Josh Baker was signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent in July 2011 out of North West Missouri State . During his rookie year with the team, he's handled everything that's been thrown his way with dignity, passion and pride a true testament to his character.
Baker joined the Jets only to be waived a week later, he was later signed to the practice squad. Bakers opportunity to showcase his talent came about during late September as he was promoted to the active roster after a season ending injury to Jeff Cumberland.
Bakers versatility is a huge plus as he adds depth to Full Back position, and has also impressed on special teams. We got the chance to catch up with Josh during his first off season to ask him how he's adapted to life as a Jet.
Your NFL dream was put on hold having gone undrafted, and then waiting for the lockout to end, describe your feelings/emotions during this tense time.
The lockout was definitely another trying period on my path to the NFL. After a painless couple days of watching the draft and not hearing my name, post draft all I wanted was to get feedback other than my agent saying "we should definitely hear from somebody." I was actually fielding calls from a couple UFL teams and toyed with the idea of playing there for a season and launch myself into the NFL by doing so. It was a tough decision not to go that route, especially since the UFL was the only feedback I was getting, but it seemed to be the right decision.
Did you find it intimidating going into the locker room for the first time and meeting your fellow colleges that have won Super Bowls and spent so much time within the league.
I wouldn't phrase it as "intimidating," more so anxious to get on the field with them to see where I would measure up talent wise.
As a rookie did you have to endure any initiation process, find yourself the victim of any locker room/practice field pranks?
Actually, after watching Hard Knocks on HBO, I was surprised at how I didn't receive any form of initiation. However, I did fall victim to a thanksgiving prank involving the retrieval of several butterball turkeys from a local grocery store. But as it turned out I left with several coupons for the free turkeys and a receipt of embarrassment at the checkout.
During the pre season games you had 6 receptions for 75 yards only to be waived by the team, was this something you took personally or did it drive you on?
That definitely drives me on to this day. I was more so angry at the fact, I felt like I didn't get as much opportunity to prove myself as I did. As a competitor I feel like if I was given more opportunities, I would have capitalized on those, and to even more help solidify my talents as a player and a contributor on a great team.
We hear that the kicker, punter and long snapper, offense and defense become tight knit groups can you shed some more light on team dynamics, do players within the practice squad/first team keep to their respective groups or is it one big happy family?
Obviously position groups spend the most time together. But for the most part everyone on the team embraces a "one big happy family." Unless, of course, there may be a drill, or even in camp, it's offense vs. defense.... The "good" vs the "ugly"--- ugly being the defense!
Having endured a roller coaster ride start to your NFL career have you found it tough to keep a level head/remain focused in the unpredictable nature of the league?
You can only control the controllables. I can't help what happens upstairs, other than being the best player and team mate I can be in order for the team to reach its common goal, which is obviously winning a championship.
What sort of impact have Head Coach Rex Ryan and special teams guru Mike Westhoff had on you?
I enjoy playing for both of them. I've been blessed to have very good coaches throughout my life playing football, and coach Westhoff is well deserved of his title of special teams guru. He also has a very....intriguing personality to say the least. I guess he's alright!
Your first career touchdown came against the Giants, talk us through that moment.
It was a very unique Experience. Looking back on it it's pretty cool to have that opportunityespecially the day before my birthday. Hopefully I have a few more of those coming my way in the future.
Could you sum up for us your first season as a Jet, and your experiences within the NFL.
From an outsider looking in, I'm sure many would look at my road as an undrafted FA and view my season as a success. I'm very fortunate for what I've done, understandably, however I know what I'm capable of and what kind of player I can be given an opportunity. I look forward to what my future may bring, and I also look forward to the work and effort that I need to put forth in order to achieve those goals.
Have you set yourself any goals for the upcoming 2012 season?
Just to do everything in my power to prove to everyone what kind of player I am, and how much I feel I can contribute to the team and our success.
Who would be your desired celebrity follow on twitter?
That's an easy one. Mark Sanchez.
As we're on the subject of twitter, the fans loved your old twitter handle @shakenbake45 why the change and would you revert back to it?
Since I'm new to twitter, I was told @Joshbaker45 would be easier to find. I am/was also a big fan of @shakeNbake45. Hopefully no one takes it so I have a chance to revert back to it.
I ask this question to everyone, few have dared to give names...who's the worst dressed amongst the Jets squad?
I'd have to nominate myself if that's possible. I wear the same sweatpants every day during the season.