After missing the 2015 season with a knee injury, Ross has a blazing return at UW's annual winter testing event, turning heads along with Huskies teammate Baker.
Go figure: Budda Baker gained weight and speed in the same offseason.
The Huskies, meanwhile, gained another option on offense with the blazing return of wide receiver John Ross III.
Baker, the Huskies’ standout junior safety, was pleased with his numbers at Washington’s third annual Husky Combine event Sunday afternoon at Dempsey Indoor Facility, most notably a hand time of 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Ross, who missed all of the 2015 season with a knee injury, was even faster, clocking a hand-timed 4.25 seconds, the fastest time on the team. Two years ago, Ross ran 4.29 seconds at the first Husky Combine.
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“It’s amazing,” Baker said of Ross’ return. “We do player practices and just seeing him run routes and running deep balls just makes me really excited for him. … He looks great. He’s going to be a huge difference (maker) for Washington football.”
Baker was the second-fastest at 4.35 seconds, followed by wide receiver Dante Pettis and cornerback Jordan Miller, both at 4.39, and senior tight end Darrell Daniels (4.44). UW only releases the top-five times and marks in each drill.
Baker also had the second-fastest times in the pro agility and the three-cone drill tests, with senior cornerback Kevin King first in both.
Baker’s 40 time was a notable improvement from his 4.5-second run during winter testing a year ago.
“The first time (last year), I had a lot of adrenaline (and) you’re nervous; you didn’t really know what you were going to get,” Baker said. “But this time you have a marking spot from last year and you’re just trying to get better from that.
“It was just about the start,” he added. “Last year I was just going off really athleticism and just trying to do what I do. But coaches helped a lot with my first 10 steps, because usually your first 10 yards are going to tell you what your 40 is. I’m very happy I got better at that.”
He was also pleased with his other testing marks Sunday, including a vertical jump of 36.5 inches, though he came up just short of his goal of 10 feet in the broad jump (hitting 9 feet, 11 inches).
The one figure Baker was especially proud of was 184 — as in 184 pounds, his current weight. Adding weight has been a constant battle for Baker since he arrived at UW from Bellevue High weighing 167 pounds a year and a half ago.
As a sophomore last fall, he began the season at 176 pounds but lost five or six pounds by the end of the year. He missed the better part of three games with a concussion and an ankle injury, the first time in his life he’d really been injured, he said. The added weight, he hopes, will make him more durable next season.
He credited his work in the weight room and his diet for the increased weight over the past two months. His plan to get to about 190 pounds by the time the Huskies open the 2016 season against Rutgers on Sept. 3.
NOTE: The Huskies’ first spring practice is scheduled for March 28, and UW’s Pro Day workout is set for March 31.