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East Lansing high school football star finds future close to home

Charlie Baker, East Lansing High School’s standout 6-foot-5 tight end. He is heading to play at Michigan State University.
Yousef Enayah
Charlie Baker, East Lansing High School’s standout 6-foot-5 tight end. He is heading to play at Michigan State University.

Charlie Baker had some big decisions to make about his future in college and football. In the end, the best place was the closest to his heart: Michigan State.

Charlie Baker, East Lansing High School’s standout 6-foot-5 tight end, decided the right place to continue his football career would be the same school he grew up rooting for and living 10 minutes away from.

Michigan State.

But Baker wasn’t handed the opportunity to stay in his hometown and join Michigan State's football team as a preferred walk-on. He earned it. Baker finished his senior season achieving All-Region and All-Conference honors, with 55 catches for 900 yards - seven for touchdowns.

He also currently holds a 3.97 GPA, earning academic All-Conference honors to go along with his football accolades.

“I’d say it was a little on the edge,” Baker said, about whether or not he thought the new staff would extend him an offer.. “I got in connection with some staff, and then (MSU) Coach (Jonathan) Smith came into our school and talked to me, which was really cool and that’s when he offered me it.”

After initially receiving the offer from the previous MSU coaching staff earlier in the football season, there were some question marks if would be carried over when Smith arrived.

Yousef Enayah

Baker draws inspiration from Smith, considering he was also a former walk-on himself.

Smith worked his way onto the field halfway through red-shirtting his freshman season at Oregon State, never looking back. He started at quarterback for them all for all four of his years there, leading them to their best season in school history, and leaving the school as their all-time leading passer.

“Him being a walk-on, and me being a walk-on, I’d say it’s the best for me,” Baker said. “Since he’s been through this road If I need help I can come to him and ask him”

Baker has spent his entire life cheering on the Spartans, attending all the home games he can get to each year. Now he’ll have the chance to join them on the road, and on the field.

Bill Franco, Baker’s head coach at East Lansing High School, believes he has the traits to develop into a solid player at the next level.

“His work ethic is sound, he wants to learn, he’s got size,” Feraco said. “I think when Michigan State gets a hold of him and he gets involved with their strength work, I think all of that from a strength and speed standpoint will increase also.

Ferraco said Baker also approaches things with the right attitude, which is just as important as his physical traits.

“I think the key is that he wants to learn, he likes to compete, and those are all favorable things,” Feraco said. “And he’s where he wants to be, he wants to be there. It’s not like a situation that just came up, it's someplace that he wants to be.”

Joining the Spartans wasn’t the only option Baker had to continue his football career. Valparaiso offered him a scholarship, and Central Michigan presented him with an opportunity to join them as a preferred walk-on.

“I’d say that there was definitely a decision, but I’d say it wasn’t that difficult because from even when I was in 4th grade playing tackle football, I’ve wanted to go to MSU, and play for MSU,” Baker said. “So getting the opportunity really shut everything out for me.”

It’d be hard to imagine someone in his shoes doing anything else. Baker is living out a dream that plenty of children in Michigan grow up having.

Tianna Tyler, East Lansing High
East Lansing's home football game against Holt High School on October 16th, 2023.

“I love MSU's atmosphere and the people around it,” Baker said. “And to be close to my family I feel like is also a plus. for them to be able to come watch me and not have to drive a crazy distance, or if i want to go talk to them I can go drive like 10 minutes.”

With one life goal now in the rear view mirror, Baker is now focused on setting himself up for success in the future.

“One of my goals is to be on the field at some point. That’s one of my main goals,” Baker said. “My major is going to be either business or pre-law, to be able to graduate from that and if i'm able to go to law school, if I make it there and get in, that’s what I want to do.”

“Or if football takes me somewhere else, but you never know.”

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