At this point two years ago, the Power 5 football coach couldn’t find Killeen Shoemaker (TX) wide receiver Mona Ray Baldwin. More precisely, they may not have wanted to find Mona Ray Baldwin.
It’s funny that some things haven’t changed Did it Recruit can’t find Mona Ray Baldwin either. he’s already past them.
The first thing most coaches and fans see when Baldwin steps onto the football field is his tiny frame. At 5 feet 9 inches and 164 pounds, he stands out in the wrong way when lined up opposite major conference opponents Division I. Because of his height, recruiters and coaches told Baldwin that he was too small to play football at a major college.
“He goes out to prove people wrong,” said Avion Sherman, Baldwin’s father. “Even if someone told him he couldn’t do it, he would do it and he would be the best at it.”
It hasn’t been his secret weapon since he first set foot in Pop Warner Field in Fort Knox, Kentucky at the age of seven.
“I was like, ‘Are other kids going this fast? ‘His speed at that age was just crazy.'”
All of Baldwin’s spectacular play in a Baylor uniform is a dead sprint, but his trip to the Bears was not.
Baldwin, who grew up just an hour south of Waco in Killeen, Texas, was a star at Shoemaker High School and revived football program on life support. The Gray Wolves won only a total of four games in Baldwin’s first two seasons, but Baldwin participated in two first-team all-district campaigns, culminating in the division’s joint MVP and finishing with Shoemaker’s best-ever 2020 season. Finishing his senior year of the year, he finished with 756 yards on 40 passes and 10 touchdowns.
He was a Killeen guy, but even though he was upping the video game numbers, his mailbox still beckoned with what Division I had to offer. What was supposed to be an exciting recruiting process began as Baldwin wore on to a stellar senior season, eventually leading to verbal commitments to his FCS program in San Antonio, Incarnate, his Ward College. rice field.
“It was disappointing because he was a Shoemaker star,” said Sherman. “I felt like he wasn’t happy with his Incarnate Word.”
Still, Incarnate Ward was where Baldwin headed. So, by November 30, 2020, just as most seniors are finishing their high school careers and setting their own commitments for months, Baldwin got an unexpected call. . That call led to texts being heard around Killeen that were of great significance to the players, their families and the rebuilding program.
A two-word text to Mandy Sherman read, “Baylor offered.”
“Perhaps the whole city of Killeen must have heard my cries,” Sherman said. “It’s the best text I’ve ever received in my life.”
Baldwin was about to fulfill his dream of playing major college football for his hometown team. He wanted a stage, but he wasn’t content with just being on stage.
Eleven months after a thrilling 31-24 comeback victory over the Texas Longhorns at McLane Stadium last October, the Baylor Bears and their entire fan base were shining. All but true freshman wide receiver Monaray Baldwin failed to even record stats. Unfortunately, it was becoming a habit, but after becoming a star at Shoemaker High School in Killeen, he had a hard time adjusting. Baylor campus.
His mother told him to just be patient.
“Your time will come,” Sherman said to his son.
Sixty-three days after their win over Texas, every Baylor (and Ole Miss) fan in America was shouting Baldwin’s name in the fourth quarter of the Sugar Bowl.
In a game tied at 7 at defensive slugfest, the Bears desperately attempted a breakout play. Their first New Year’s 6-bowl victory. Instead of running a jet sweep with Alumni transfer slot receiver Drew Estrada, they handed over to the seldom-used Baldwin, as they had been doing on that particular play all year.
“I just looked up at the jumbotron and said, ‘Oh, there’s a Monaray in it,'” said Avion Sherman. “[Mandy] Couldn’t even get her camera set up and he was gone. ”
Baldwin got the ball, took the chance and ran. 48 yards to the end zone.
Out of nowhere, his time has come.
It was complete madness.didn’t know the camera Where he didn’t know the fans Who He did, even ESPN’s graphic said Estrada scored, but one mom in the stands didn’t know that what think.
“The moment is hazy,” said Mandy Sherman.
ESPN’s play-by-play crooner Joe Tesitore saw it from the jump and exclaimed, “Baldwin goes free!” Baldwin was not only freed from the rebel defenses, but also freed from all anxiety, anger, and self-doubt, from his near-redshirt recruiting journey to the stateless game against Texas. It all came loose in his one of the biggest plays in Baylor’s football history.
Baldwin’s parents estimate they’ve seen the Touchdown video 1000 times since January.
In fact, he’s kind of tired of talking about plays.
“I don’t really like people talking about it because it’s just one play,” Baldwin said before the season. nothing will change.”
If he was content with being a great high school player, he wouldn’t be playing at the highest level of college football. I wouldn’t have scored a down. If he was happy with that one play, well, he wouldn’t be Monaray Baldwin.
Instead, Baldwin has stepped up his game in 2022. Basically in just his two games (he only had one target against Iowa State after he missed two games from injury), Baldwin said he had 13 receptions. Leading the team. He receives yards for 261 and touchdowns for 3.
In a wide-receiver unit that hasn’t returned a single starter since 2021, Baldwin has used his burner to emerge as a deep threat for the Bears, with each of his four total touchdowns going 40+ yards. In Baylor’s final game, Baldwin had 174 yards where he set fire to No. 8 Oklahoma State with 7 catches and 2 touchdowns, 4th and he had a 70-yard skipper at 5th. It was highlighted, keeping the Bears in the score and over half of the Cowboys’ defense. to the end zone.
His skill set is a huge advantage for the Bears and the coaching staff are looking to shape their offense around him.
“We’re making what we do, what he does,” coach Dave Aranda said in September. “We’re creating spots as it goes. increase.”
Baldwin has had touches in the backfield, slots and splits wide this year. His confidence remains the same no matter where he is placed.
Based on his performance this year, there are other things that haven’t changed for Baldwin.
When Balor gave him a big “8” and “0” and put it on the wall to show off his jersey number 80, Baldwin’s mother was perplexed to see that Baldwin only cut the 0 and said 8 is no longer visible.
When she asked him about it, he told her, “Zero? Because I have someone to protect me.”
Baldwin’s journey looks like a sprint, but a marathon of doubt from the outside, proving people wrong, and writing his name on the Baylor Bears’ football lure isn’t over yet.
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