Budda Baker, the Huskies’ star free safety, dedicated himself to eating more — and eating more healthy food — this offseason. The result is an added 18 pounds to his 5-foot-10 frame.

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Budda Baker is willing to do whatever it takes to gain an edge (and a pound) for the Washington defense, even if it means eating the occasional vegetable.

Baker, the Huskies’ star free safety, dedicated himself to eating more — and eating more healthy food — this offseason. The result is an added 18 pounds to his 5-foot-10 frame — up to 192 now at the start of fall camp this week, weight that he expects will help him withstand the physical toll of a 12-game regular season.

“I’ve gained a lot of weight,” he said, “and feel a lot faster and stronger.”

While the rest of us are doing what we can to drop a few pounds here and there, Baker had the opposite problem his first two years on campus.

He arrived at UW weighing 167 pounds, yet still started every game as a true freshman. Last year, he weighed about 174 pounds during the season and took almost constant ribbing from defensive-backs coach Jimmy Lake.

Baker wasn’t the only one: Lake regularly checked in on cornerback Jordan Miller, who weighed 158 pounds when he arrived on campus last year. Miller’s up to 176 and can’t easily hide behind a light pole anymore.

Lake has asked team dietician Ema Thake to provide protein shakes for all the defensive backs during position-group meetings, mandating that the athletes finish the shakes before the end of the session.

“It was a fun offseason, and the guys took it the right way,” Lake said. “They took it seriously, and I think it’s going to translate into them having a little more force behind their hits now — and it should keep them healthy, too.”

How’d Baker gain all the weight? A sampling of his menu this offseason:

• Rise-and-dine: In the morning, one of the first things Baker does is drink an Advocare food-replacement chocolate shake, which the company touts has 24 grams (and 220 calories) of “easy-to-digest protein.”

• Before a morning workout at the team’s facility, he has a bagel and Muscle Milk.

• After the workout, he joins teammates at the athletes’ main dining hall inside the Conibear Shellhouse. His favorite breakfast there is an omelet with bacon, cheese and ham and a side of fruit (cantaloupe or pineapple, please). Plus water. Lots of water.

• Thake puts together snack bags for the players to munch on during classes and meetings, and Baker is especially fond of the 3.17-ounce organic apple sauce pouches (available in boxes of 24 from Costco, and a staple for small children and skinny safeties everywhere). He snacks on Goldfish crackers, too, but he’d prefer to stay away from any vegetables.

“I try to get a vegetable in there sometimes,” he said, “but I don’t really like them.”

• Lunch is his favorite. Ideally, he’s able to load up a big meal from Chipotle or Q-Doba — “with extra meat,” to pack on the protein.

• In the afternoon, more snacking.

• For dinner, another big meal, of course, often some kind of spaghetti or chicken fettuccini.

In addition to the pounds, he credits Thake for giving him gain a better understanding of nutrition in general.

“Ema’s helped us a lot,” he said. “She’s really helped us realize what we’re putting in our bodies.”

Will it add more thump to his hits, make him more durable and keep him just as fast this fall? That’s the goal, anyway.

Until then, he’ll have to, um, “weight” and see what works.


• The Huskies had their first full-squad practice and their first in shoulder pads Wednesday afternoon at Husky Stadium, with a couple hundred fans showing up for the first of two workouts open to the general public. (The other is Saturday afternoon.)

• For the third straight day, the defense shut out the offense, but that’s not totally unexpected this early in camp. UW returns the bulk of its defense, while the offense is working out the kinks on some new plays. Chris Petersen didn’t sound panicked. “When it’s all said and done,” he said, “the offense will be OK.”