Baker Douglas will be a Midland Warrior this fall after securing the richest post-secondary scholarship ever offered to a GW Graham athlete.
The soon-to-graduate senior is getting four years and $64,000 USD guaranteed towards his schooling at the university, which is based in Fremont, NE.
Baker, a wide receiver/defensive back with the GWG Grizzlies, took an unusual and controversial route to his scholarship.
Baker utilized a paid recruiting service that showcases prospects to NCAA programs, and earned additional exposure through events like Football University (FBU).
Baker believes he benefited from access to FBU camps in Seattle and Ohio, but some weren’t fond of the pay-to-play approach.
“We took a lot of flack for spending the money and going to a firm in the U.S.,” Baker’s dad, Sean Douglas, admitted. “But we said this was the best thing for us.”
“You can’t argue with the results.”
Baker signed with the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) in Grade 9. From then on, his job was to play football and keep his grades up, which he did.
The rest was handled by Sean, who Baker said has ‘pretty much been my agent.’
“In Grade 9 he had a telephone interview with an agent in Chicago, which mentally committed him to the process and made him recognize the time and financial commitments,” Sean explained. “They try to weed out the kids who are dreamers and find the kids who are serious about what they have to put into it.”
“As you progress through your Grade 9, 10 and 11 years you’re uploading video clips, building your profile and getting opportunities.”
Sean said the price for NCSA’s services was a one-time bill of $2,500 USD.
“So, call it $3,000 CDN, and I don’t think it’s overly expensive,” he said. “That included all the scouting and coaching and one-on-one, with a 92 per cent placement rate for athletics.”
“And it was guaranteed. If he was hurt playing football it was a 100 per cent refund.”
“So I looked at it as a guarantee that he was going to play college football if he put the work in, and it was a no-brainer for me.”
Four GW Graham alums before Baker committed to CIS schools; Jake Creasey (Manitoba), Treyvon Walsh (Alberta), Diego Pineda (Simon Fraser) and Emerson Smith (Alberta).
Players taking the CIS route often need to shine at Football BC camps.
“You really have to get noticed based on your football skill, whereas with this I can sort of shove my face out there with grades,” Baker noted. “Obviously film helps, but I think it’s much easier to get access to a coach in the U.S. through the NCSA, even if you don’t have the strongest skill development.”
“Academics open doors for you more so in the U.S. than they do in Canada,” Sean added. “Within Canada, the fantastic athletes get noticed and they try to make the grades work with summer schools and tutoring.”
Sean said several coaches in the U.S. told him that they’ll coach up a kid who has a reasonable level of football skill if the grades are there.
“They said, ‘If I have a kid that I don’t know that well, but I know he will get his work done in the classroom, that’s most of my battle with my athletes,” he recalled.
Baker joins a Warriors team that plays in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), which is affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
His team went 1-8 in conference play and 1-10 overall in 2015, leading to the dismissal of Josh Gehring and the hiring of Jeff Jamrog.
“They haven’t mentioned a lot, yet, in terms of my role on the team,” Baker said. “But they’ve been very, very forward getting me to that school.”
“I’m very confident I’m going to get time on the field at some point, whether it be first or second year.”
Living in Nebraska will be a transition, and Sean and Kim (mom) will help him get settled in.
Baker said the campus is beautiful and the area is nice, and while he anticipates some home sickness, he thinks he’ll adapt.
He’ll probably be too distracted to worry about it once school and football start.
“But we will miss him dearly,” Sean said. “We’ll take a family vacation this summer to get him moved in and then we’ll enjoy going down there to watch his games.”
See midlandathletics.com for more information.