Baker stepping up in depleted UVA secondary

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- As injuries started to pop up in the Virginia secondary, safety Chris Moore told younger players like Jaylon Baker they were "one play away" from going in and that time came last Saturday night.

With North Carolina on the doorstep trying to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Baker came up with the pass breakup to end the Tar Heels drive. A big play in a crucial moment for the redshirt freshman.

"Probably doesn't have the fastest top-end speed, but his length I think makes up for that and that showed a couple times in the game," co-Defensive Coordinator Kelly Poppinga said, "Really that play in the endzone, if he's not 6'3 and has the wingspan that he has, he probably doesn't disrupt that pass like he did."

Virginia already lost cornerback Darrius Bratton before the season began due to a knee injury. The Wahoos then lost senior All-American Bryce Hall after he suffered an injury on the road in Miami. Just in the last week Brenton Nelson and Antonio Clary have both been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Baker has only played in four games this season, but Bronco Mendenhall thinks there is more to come from the redshirt freshman.

"Jaylon's got a bright future, he's long and he's fast and he plays the ball really well," Mendenhall said, "His tackling skills are being improved. His experience, he got his feet wet and his eyes didn't get too big."

Baker is listed as Nick Grant's backup on the two-deep for Georgia Tech after making his first career start against North Carolina. While Poppinga sees more Baker can improve, the promise is there.

"He's got to build on some technique and fundamental things," Poppinga said, "But obviously his length is a major plus for us."

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