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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. UCF, Lakewood star Shaquill Griffin drafted by Seattle Seahawks

    Blog

    Former UCF defensive back and Lakewood High star Shaquill Griffin was chosen in the third round of the NFL draft when the Seahawks chose him with the No. 90 overall pick Friday night.

    The 6-foot, 194-pound Griffin broke up 15 passes last fall - tied for the second-most in a season in Knights history. He had 50 tackles and a team-high four interceptions to earn second-team all-American Athletic Conference honors....

  2. FSU's Dalvin Cook slides to Vikings at No. 41; three Gator DBs taken in Round 2

    Bucs

    After being passed over by the Bucs —and every other team in the first round of Thursday's NFL draft — former Florida State running back Dalvin Cook didn't have to wait too long on Day 2.

    The Miami native went to the Vikings with the 41st overall pick Friday night after Minnesota traded up seven spots to get him.

    Cook is the highest-drafted Seminoles running back since Warrick Dunn went No. 12 to the Bucs 20 years ago. It's a fitting comparison for the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Cook, who spent his time in Tallahassee chasing Dunn as the best back in program history. ...

    Dalvin Cook, FSU’s all-time rushing 
leader, slides to the Vikings with the 41st overall pick. There were questions involving 
off-field issues coupled with his unimpressive NFL combine numbers.
  3. NFL draft: Florida Gators' Jalen Tabor joining Jarrad Davis with Lions

    Blog

    Former Florida Gators cornerback Jalen Tabor will join teammate Jarrad Davis in Detroit. The Lions selected Tabor with the No. 53 overall pick, a night after drafting Davis, a linebacker, in the first round.

    The 6-foot, 200-pound Tabor began the season as a likely first-round pick. He was (arguably) the Gators' best cornerback in 2015 - ahead of Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs' first-round pick last year. Tabor had four interceptions and 18 passes defended that year....

  4. Indianapolis Colts draft Florida Gators' Quincy Wilson in second round

    Blog

    Former Florida Gators cornerback Quincy Wilson is headed to the Indianapolis Colts after being chosen with the No. 46 overall pick in the NFL draft.

    The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Wilson is the latest in UF's recent run of standouts from the secondary. He went seven picks after Jets-bound safety Marcus Maye. Two from UF's secondary were first-round picks last year - the Bucs took former Wharton High cornerback Vernon Hargreaves at No. 11, and the Falcons drafted safety Keanu Neal six picks later....

  5. Minnesota Vikings draft ex-FSU star Dalvin Cook

    Blog

    Former Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook didn't have to wait too long on Day 2. Cook went to the Vikings with the No. 41 overall pick after Minnesota traded up to get him in the second round.

    The Miami native is the highest Seminoles running back drafted in 20 years, since Warrick Dunn went No. 12 to the Bucs. It's a fitting comparison for the 5-10, 210-pound Cook, considering he spent his time in Tallahassee chasing Dunn as the best back in program history....

  6. New York Jets take Florida Gators' Marcus Maye in second round

    Blog

    The New York Jets have selected former Florida Gators safety Marcus Maye with the No. 39 overall pick.

    The 6-foot, 210-pound Melbourne native could have turned pro last year but returned for his redshirt senior season. He started nine games before injuring his shoulder against South Carolina. He still finished the season with 50 tackles and six pass breakups.

    The hard-hitting safety earned All-America consideration the year before with 82 tackles and five forced fumbles - second-most in the country....

  7. NFL draft: Would you take Florida Gators' Caleb Brantley?

    Blog

    Barring an unexpected development, the Caleb Brantley investigation will not be over by the time the second day of the NFL draft begins this evening. The State Attorney's Office is still looking into a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from an April 13 fight.

    Brantley was a second-team all-SEC player at Florida. Most draft analysts projected him as a second-round pick before the incident, and Brantley's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said a half dozen teams have called him about Brantley since then (and are still interested in the former Florida Gator)....

  8. FSU's Dalvin Cook snubbed in first round, could go early on Day 2

    Blog

    The Bucs weren't the only team that passed on Florida State running back Dalvin Cook in the first round of the NFL draft.

    All of them did Thursday night.

    Cook was reportedly sliding down draft boards. Maybe it because of his athleticism - his numbers at the NFL's scouting combine were not good. Maybe it was because of rumblings about character concerns because Cook had multiple run-ins with the law, including a BB gun fight and a charge that he punched a woman in the face in 2015 (he was acquitted). Maybe it was because of the decreased value NFL teams have put on running backs (Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey might be exceptions, not the rule)....

  9. Florida LB Jarrad Davis goes No. 21 to Lions, first player from state taken in NFL draft

    Bucs

    Former Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis was the first player chosen from a state college in the NFL draft when the Lions selected him with the No. 21 overall pick Thursday.

    Davis had a stellar career for the Gators, where he racked up 205 tackles (20 for loss) in four seasons. The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Georgia native considered turning pro after the 2015 season but returned for his senior year....

    Linebacker Jarrad Davis, who accumulated 205 tackles in his four-year Gator career, is drafted No. 21 overall by the Lions.
  10. Miss on Dalvin Cook? He'll make you regret it

    Blog

    I've already made my case for why the Bucs should draft Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, if he's available with the No. 19 pick.

    Here's one more reason: He tends to burn teams that could have had him.

    At Miami Central High, Cook was committed to two schools - Clemson and Florida - before signing with FSU. Let's thrown in his hometown Hurricanes, too....

  11. Jimbo Fisher downplays Cam Akers, opener against Alabama

    Blog

    Florida State's Sept. 2 matchup against Alabama is still looming as perhaps the biggest opening-weekend game in college football history. That's not hyperbole.

    It's also not on the mind of FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, or, he hopes, his Seminoles.

    "Our culture is to stay true to the process," Fisher said Wednesday, channeling his former boss, Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. "We're not worried about results or opponents. We're worried about ourselves."...

  12. Jimbo Fisher defends Dalvin Cook's character, references fake news

    Blog

    Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher brushed off any concerns about Dalvin Cook's character as NFL draft circles evaluate the former Seminoles running back leading into Thursday's first round.

    "Tremendous guy to coach," Fisher said Wednesday during the ACC football coaches' post-spring teleconference. "Very easy guy to coach. Great team guy. One of the hardest working guys I've ever coached...Never had any issues with him."...

  13. Caleb Brantley's attorney: Ex-UF player refuses to settle with complainant (w/video)

    College

    The attorneys for former Florida defensive lineman and NFL draft prospect Caleb Brantley said the attorneys representing the complainant have tried to settle the battery case.

    "I was approached by lawyers representing the alleged victim, both yesterday and today," Brantley's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said Tuesday evening. "They indicated to me they were meeting with the State Attorney's Office tomorrow and that they want to settle the case today. I called Mr. Brantley and communicated what they said to me. He told me that under no circumstances were we to offer them money or give them any money. He said no."...

    Defensive lineman Caleb Brantley (57) rests after running through a drill during Florida's NFL Pro Day in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, March 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  14. Caleb Brantley's attorney: Complainant wanted to settle battery case

    Blog

    The attorneys for former Florida defensive lineman and NFL draft prospect Caleb Brantley said the attorneys representing the complainant have tried to settle the battery case.

    "I was approached by lawyers representing the alleged victim, both yesterday and today," Brantley's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said Tuesday evening. " They indicated to me they were meeting with the State Attorney's Office tomorrow and that they want to settle the case today. I called Mr. Brantley and communicated what they said to me. He told me that under no circumstances were we to offer them money or give them any money. He said no."...

  15. Quarterback Jack Allison leaving Miami Hurricanes

    Blog

    Former Under Armour All-America quarterback Jack Allison is leaving the Miami Hurricanes, the school announced Tuesday morning.

    Allison was a four-star recruit and a top-200 overall prospect out of Palmetto High in the class of 2016. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Allison redshirted last fall and was apparently on the outside looking in to become the starting quarterback for the ‘Canes.

    "Jack approached me and indicated that he felt like he would have more opportunities for playing time at another program," coach Mark Richt said in a statement. "We wish him all the best in his future plans."...