WKU Spring Game: White 28-21 over Red

Western Kentucky quarterback Ty Storey (left) hands off to running back Quinton Baker Saturday, April 13, 2019, during the annual spring game at Houchens-Smith Stadium. The white team won 28-21. (Bac Totrong/photo@bgdailynews.com)

Western Kentucky football coach Tyson Helton will have Quinton Baker available in his backfield this fall.

The NCAA has ruled the redshirt junior running back is immediately eligible to compete for WKU, the Daily News learned Tuesday night. Team spokesman Kyle Neaves confirmed the news.

Baker played in 2016 and 2017 for the Hilltoppers before then-coach Mike Sanford dismissed him last spring “due to consistent violation of team rules.”

After playing the 2018 season at FCS Portland State, Baker transferred back to WKU. Helton, who was hired in November to replace the fired Sanford, welcomed the Ashland native back onto the Toppers’ roster.

Baker appeared in only two games last season for the lower-level Vikings. Under the redshirt rules put in place by the NCAA last season, Baker can claim 2018 as a redshirt year because he played in so few games and hadn’t previously declared a redshirt in his career.

Therefore, Baker has two seasons of eligibility left to play for WKU, starting immediately this fall.

Baker, who is 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, went through the Hilltoppers’ spring practices during March and April. He figures to battle for playing time right away this fall in a running backs group that also includes Gino Appleberry Jr., Garland LaFrance, Marcelis Logan, KeShawn McClendon, Jakairi Moses and Joshua Samuel.

In 2016, Baker rushed for 542 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman for a team that won the Conference USA championship.

The next year, Baker finished with 65 carries for 233 yards and a TD. Injuries ended his sophomore season after only seven games.

Baker said he’s focused on doing right off the field and bulking up in the weight room since returning to WKU after his season at Portland State.

“I put a little weight on and I’m feeling good,” Baker said in March. “I’m still feeling agile, still feeling fast. I’m ready to get the season started.”{&end}

– Follow Daily News sports reporter Brad Stephens on Twitter @BradBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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Bowling Green Daily News sports reporter primarily covering Western Kentucky football and men's basketball.

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