Hayden Baker, Northwestern Wildcats football, No. 65

USA TODAY Sports

Hayden Baker's a walk-on lineman, but was all-state on a championship squad in high school. And he's probably going to see the field at guard this year.

Hayden Baker, the big block maker! Sure, he's a walk-on and *highly* unlikely to have anybody else besides me use that nickname ever in the history of things, but, I will use it, because his last name is Baker and dammit, he deserves it.

HB's a 6'2, 280-pound junior, and, you know what, he actually might play football for the Northwestern Wildcats on several occasions!

Origin myth

Hayden was... well, actually quite quite good in high school! Baker went to Cary-Grove -- yeah, places I used to cover when I worked for the Northwest Herald! -- and was on a squad that won the state title in 2009. He was actually sort of really, really important for them, too, playing center on a team that ran the triple-option. And other people thought he was pretty good, too, earning all-state honors from the Trib, Illinois High School Football Association, making the top-25 in-state list from the Sun-Times, and earning two all-area nods from the Northwest Herald, who KNOWS THEIR STUFF because they once let me write for them. But all that didn't lead to any scholarship offers: just a lot of interest from Ivy League schools. Regardless, he ditched the option to play for no scholarship at an Ivy League school and took the opportunity to play for no scholarship at Northwestern, which, YEAHHHH US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT GET IT GET IT

At Northwestern

Baker's played in three games across two seasons. I imagine all of them were somewhat out of hand.

Anagram of choice

Discovering the Wildcats' true inner selves through spelling

Hayden Baker anagrammed is

HANDY BEAKER

ahhhhh man I got all this liquid I need to pour into another liquid and then it's gonna change colors, but all I got is these graduated cylinders -- hey, look, a beaker! I guess Baker is like a handy beaker in that he could possibly play football if necessary despite low expectations, and is also like a vessel.

(Also considered: "Hyena barked" -- nah, son, they laugh -- "daybreak hen" -- nah, son, daybreak ROOSTER -- and "yank her abed," which, YOOOOO, RAPEY)

Relevant musical selection

"Up, Up, and Away (The Wake and Bake Song)", Kid Cudi

So I'm really not a Kid Cudi fan, guys. He's like the ultimate person-who-isn't-actually-a-rapper-but-hangs-out-with-rappers-and-sings-and-people-term-him-a-rapper-because-what-else-do-we-call-him. Like, I've only heard him actually rap once in his life, and it was weird and he kept going "ohh-eee-ohhhh". But I'll admit some of his songs are damn listenable to, and I actually enjoyed his weed-y set at Northwestern a few years back. My personal favorite is CudiZone, and Day N Nite is good, but this is here because of name relevance. I don't like this song. And it's in Vitamin Water ads.

How he can help

I'm impressed by this dude, so far as walk-on offensive linemen go. He'll be on the two-deep. You want the guys that recruiting people thought were good enough to give a scholarship to be playing the majority of your snaps, but if something happens and Baker needs to play, he doesn't seem like the worst stopgap.

Depth chart projection

So, basically, three guys are participating for two offensive guard spots: Matt Frazier, Geoff Mogus, and Adam DePietro. On the two-deep, Baker would be the fourth guy. He might actually serve as a true backup to somebody, but I suspect the third person who doesn't win a starting gig will serve as a swing lineman capable of filling in for either lineman in a spell while Baker only gets a handful of snaps. But he'll get in the game, and if an injury happens and the swing guard has to take over a starting role, he's next up. As a junior, he's older than most of the guys ahead of him on the depth chart, so I don't see him taking over a starting spot in his career, but if he can be a decent fill-in at times, that's a solid career for a walk-on.
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