The football journey of Jamauri Baker, formerly of KIPP Pride ENC in sleepy Gaston, has proven unique.
Twice over, no less.
In June 2019, the former Pride quarterback signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his gridiron ways and means at Barton College — which, at the time, was dotting I’s and crossing T’s to reconstruct a program dormant since 1950.
Then, in February 2020 — after prepping for some seven months — COVID-19 arrived at the nation’s door, thus nixing the school’s fall season.
Call it a matriculation twice-delayed, then, as it will be 27 months between live downs for Baker when BC’s 2020-2021 campaign begins on Feb. 27 versus Erskine.
However cliche, better late than never at all.
Skill Set, ProductionA dual-threat proposition on offense, Baker threw for 2,179 yards and 15 touchdowns over the course of his prep career, which included 197 rushing attempts for 973 yards and 19 scores.
Across all fronts, No. 1 was a bonafide game-plan wrecker.
Further, he solidified the back end of the Pride secondary, as evidenced by his booking 69 tackles — five for loss — during his senior campaign.
As for Baker’s high-water mark, one needs look no further than Oct. 5, 2018, when he rushed for two scores and tossed three others while accumulating 260 total yards in a 50-0 dismantling of Tar Roanoke 1A foe Rocky Mount Prep.
Next-level prospectsAt present, Baker is listed in the Barton program as a 5-foot-9-inch, 195-pound defensive back — which makes for a crowded film-study room, given 24 other players vying for snaps on the Bulldogs’ second level.
Here’s thinking, however, KIPP’s favorite son will use his trademark toughness and between-the-lines wit to earn his share of playing time for BC, whose upcoming slate features five games against opponents who went a combined 29-19 last season.
Barton, which will play the next two years as a scheduling partner of the South Atlantic Conference, is a formal member of the Conference Carolinas, an NCAA Division II alignment comprised of 11 teams from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.