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Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087

Email: mbaker@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

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  1. How the Bucs' indoor practice facility compares to Gators, FSU

    Blog

    The Bucs are finally getting their indoor practice facility.

    Which means Tampa Bay's NFL team is catching up to the state's major college programs.

    Florida State built its indoor practice facility in 2013. The Gators opened theirs two years later. Miami broke ground on its facility in May....

    Jameis Winston held his pro day at Florida State's indoor practice facility. His pro team will be getting one soon.
  2. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blog

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

    Wilder is back at running back (mostly) for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. He had three carries for nine yards in Sunday's season opener....

  3. Ranking Malik Zaire among 2017's top transfer quarterbacks

    Blog

    The Florida Gators' Malik Zaire is among many transfers who could become starters at their new school. Here's how he stacks up in our rankings of top transfer quarterbacks:

    1. Jarrett Stidham (Auburn). He put up great numbers (12 touchdowns, two interceptions) in 10 games at Baylor before leaving less than two months after coach Art Briles' dismissal. He only started three games for the Bears, but he showed enough talent (and has a good enough coach in Gus Malzahn) to be No. 1, barely ahead of......

  4. John Calipari: Kevin Knox makes you shake your head and say 'Wow'

    Blog

    Even though former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox left the USA Basketball U19 tryouts due to a hamstring injury, he still made quite an impression on coach John Calipari.

    "There were times I just shook my head and said, ‘Wow,'" Calipari said Monday during an SEC basketball teleconference....

  5. How good is Florida Gators' Jim McElwain? We're about to find out

    College

    With Florida finally, formally announcing the addition of quarterback Malik Zaire on Monday, the attention turns from the Notre Dame grad transfer to the man who will be coaching him.

    We're about to find out just how good Jim McElwain is.

    With UF losing seven defensive players to the NFL draft plus coordinator Geoff Collins to Temple, McElwain probably won't be able to keep grinding out 16-10 wins. That means a third consecutive trip to Atlanta hinges on the Gators' offense. And their offense comes down to how McElwain handles the quarterback battle between Zaire and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks....

    The Gators' offense comes down to how head coach Jim McElwain handles the quarterback battle between Zaire and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  6. Officially official: Malik Zaire, Jake Fruhmorgen join Florida Gators

    Blog

    It's finally, officially official: Malik Zaire has joined the Florida Gators.

    UF formally announced the addition of the graduate transfer quarterback from Notre Dame on Monday, the first day of classes in the school's Summer B session.

    The move has been in the works for weeks and became possible after the SEC changed its graduate transfer policies at this month's spring meetings in Destin....

  7. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois

    Blog

    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

    Flowers came in at No. 53 on the list. That's ahead of other notable quarterbacks like Ohio State's J.T. Barrett and Alabama's Jalen Hurts.

    SI writes: "The senior could lead the Bulls to a New Year's Six Bowl berth (and, with some luck, an undefeated record) while making a run at an invitation to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony."...

  8. Illinois is recruiting a 10-year-old. Where will Lovie Smith be by the time the kid can sign?

    Blog

    Today in ridiculous recruiting news, Lovie Smith's Illinois football team offered a scholarship to a 10-year-old.

    That's ten years old. As in, he has been on this earth for a decade. He is the same age as Ryder, the boy in the TV show Paw Patrol, which the young man might very well watch when he isn't earning scholarship offers from a Big Ten program. Because he's 10 (ten) years old....

  9. Deon Cain, Duke Dawson, Derrick Nnadi among SI's top 100 players

    Blog

    Sports Illustrated's countdown of the top 100 players in college football continues with three more local players.

    Florida Gators defensive back Duke Dawson came in at No. 72 - ahead of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (among others). Dawson should be UF's top player in the secondary, with Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson and Marcus Maye all in the NFL....

  10. NBA draft: Jonathan Isaac could make FSU history tonight

    Blog

    Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac will probably hear his name called early in tonight's NBA draft.

    Maybe historically early, at least by Seminoles standards.

    SI projects him to go third overall to the Celtics. ESPN calls him the draft's No. 5 prospect and headed to Orlando with the No. 6 pick. CBS suggests No. 7 to Minnesota....

  11. Should tackle football be banned until high school?

    Blog

    Warren Sapp announced Tuesday that he will donate his brain to concussion researchers after his death.

    Beyond the headline, Sapp said something else interesting: He wants to eliminate tackle football until high school.

    That idea is one that came up in conversations during our recent reporting for this story on the flag/tackle debate in youth football. The group Practice like Pros proposes keeping tackle football in high school but not until then. Middle schoolers would begin learning how to play tackle through weight training, neck strengthening and limited contact so they're prepared once they reach ninth grade....

  12. Malik Zaire officially announces he's joining Florida Gators

    Blog

    It's still not officially official, but it's slightly officialer than it was yesterday.

    Malik Zaire is joining the Florida Gators, as he announced Tuesday afternoon.

  13. With Will Grier eligible at West Virginia, what might have been at Florida?

    Blog

    Former Florida Gators quarterback Will Grier will be eligible to start the season for West Virginia, the Mountaineers announced today.

    Grier transferred to West Virginia after earning a one-year suspension for failing an NCAA drug test at UF. He missed the final six regular-season games at UF in 2015, and the NCAA allows him to serve the rest of his suspension while sitting out, anyway, because of its transfer rules....

  14. Deondre Francois, Eddy Pineiro among SI's top 100 players

    Blog

    Sports Illustrated is counting down its list of the top 100 players in college football, and the first installment features three from the state.

    Florida Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro is No. 100. Yes, he's a kicker, but he's also a darn good one.

    The player in front of Pineiro is even more intriguing - Florida State running back Cam Akers. The next snap he plays will be his first, but his performance in the spring game showed he's worthy of being compared to Dalvin Cook, the player he is trying to replace....