By John Philip Wyllie
Eastlake High School has a new pancake man, but his pancakes are not the type you might enjoy at IHOP. As a matter of fact, the defensive lineman who are the regular recipients of Jose Baez’s pancakes don’t enjoy them at all. That is because in football, a pancake block is one in which the defender is not only blocked, but flattened like a pancake.
“Jose is the best offensive lineman I have ever coached,” Titans head coach, John McFadden stated emphatically. “He is about 6’2” and 280 lbs. and he bench presses over 400 lbs. He’s a beast in the weight room and a beast out on the field. As a junior last year, he was an All-League selection and this year he could be All-CIF. With a solid G.P.A. and a 1200 on his college boards, I believe he is going to be a Division I scholarship guy.”
Remarkably, with all his accomplishments Baez has only limited football experience.
“I have only been playing about three years. I started playing my sophomore year on the J.V. team not really knowing anything about football,” Baez said. “I wanted to get into a sport where my size, strength and physical (attributes) wouldn’t get in the way, but instead could be used to their full potential. I didn’t play much that first year, but I started last year (and was an All-Mesa League offensive tackle). This year I am a varsity captain.”
Baez spent the first seven years of his life in Mexico, so naturally he favored soccer as a young kid. But after settling in the South Bay and seeing the way his body was developing, it became pretty apparent that soccer was not going to be in his future. I hurt my knees when I was about 10 and so I stopped playing soccer. And a few years later Baez discovered football. It was a match made in heaven.
Baez has attracted the attention of at least a half dozen Division I universities including USC, UCLA, Purdue, UNLV and the University of Arizona. He credits his offensive line coach with spearheading his promotional efforts.
“I owe a lot to our line coach, Rone Torres,” Baez said. “He is our recruiting coach and he takes care of everything (including) sending my tapes out (to the prospective colleges).”
Baez also credits his parents for the solid support they have provided over the years.
“My parents always tell me that there is nothing more important than academics at my age. They didn’t get very far in school due to economic problems (in Mexico). Now I have everything I need to go on and get a good education and they want me to go as far as I can. Without school there would be nothing. I wouldn’t be playing football and without my grades I would never be able to get into college. I admire my parents a lot. They have always been there for me.”
With his strong work ethic, positive, outgoing personality and grateful attitude, a lot of people within the Eastlake Football program admire Baez as well.