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Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087

Email: mbaker@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

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  1. Report: Florida Gators to host Colorado State in 2018

    Blog

    Florida will host Colorado State on Sept. 15, 2018, according to a report from the Coloradoan newspaper.

    A reporter from USA Today dubbed it the Jim McElwain Buyout Game, because it was part of the agreement when McElwain and the Gators bought out his contract as Colorado State's coach....

  2. Introducing the new Sunshine State Report blog

    Blog

    You can probably tell from the new name and logo, but we're making a few changes around here. So let me welcome you to the Sunshine State Report, our new college sports blog.

    The Sunshine State Report takes the place of our Gators blog. That doesn't mean we're abandoning our coverage of Florida (the university); it means we're revamping our coverage of Florida (the state).

    We will still cover UF and the first season of new coach Jim McElwain. But we're going to cast our net wider, with more Florida State information, as well as Miami, UCF and anything else that pops up. The content and colleges will vary, based on the season, the week and the day's big stories, but this will be a landing spot for news, information, analysis and links....

  3. Gators' Keanu Neal remains sidelined, status 'to be determined'

    Blog

    Florida safety Keanu Neal remains sidelined with a leg injury he sustained during Friday's scrimmage.

    "To be determined," coach Jim McElwain said Tuesday night.

    Neal, who started eight games last year, didn't practice Tuesday. Receivers Raphael Andrades and Valdez Showers were also held out, McElwain said, while offensive linemen Travaris Dorsey returned to practice.

    A few other observations from Tuesday's practice:...

  4. Tampa native Michael Frazier officially joins Lakers

    Blog

    Former Florida and Plant High guard Michael Frazier officially signed with the Lakers on Tuesday. The sides agreed to terms last week on a two-year deal worth $1.4 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    Frazier, a 6-foot-4 guard, left UF after his junior season and went undrafted. He averaged 9.9 points and 3.5 rebounds over this three years with the Gators....

  5. Vernon Hargreaves III among five Florida Gators honored by SEC football coaches

    Blog

    Florida defensive back and former Wharton High standout Vernon Hargreaves III was named by the SEC's coaches as a first-team all-conference selection, the Gators announced Tuesday.

    Hargreaves, a junior, led the SEC with 13 pass breakups last season and enters the season as one of the country's top defensive players and a potential top-five NFL draft pick.

    Senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard and senior linebacker Antonio Morrison were both second-team honorees. Morrison continues to recover from a knee injury he sustained in the Birmingham Bowl but recorded a team-high 101 tackles last season. Bullard totaled 52 tackles last fall as a junior....

  6. Florida Gators to host basketball tip-off event on Oct. 2

    Blog

    Florida will host its Gators Madness basketball tip-off event at 9 p.m. on Friday Oct. 2 at the O'Connell Center, the school announced Tuesday afternoon. 

    The event is free and will give fans a chance to hear from new men's basketball coach Mike White, in addition to the rest of the men's and women's teams.

    The event is also the night before UF hosts Ole Miss in football at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. ...

  7. Alvin Bailey giddy after former teammate Matt Jones' first NFL touchdown

    Blog

    When former Armwood High and Florida running back Matt Jones scored the first touchdown of his NFL career Thursday night for Washington, one of his former teammates was ecstatic.

    "I couldn't hold it in," said Alvin Bailey, who played with Jones in high school and with the Gators. "I just jumped up, screaming."...

    Washington Redskins running back Matt Jones dives past Detroit Lions defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo (63) to score a touchdown during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday in Landover, Md.
  8. Florida State 10th in preseason AP poll; Ohio State unanimous No. 1

    College

    If Associated Press voters are right, Florida's college football programs could be in for a down year.

    Florida State was the lone program from Florida to appear in the AP's preseason top 25, which was released Sunday. The Seminoles are 10th — two spots lower than their ranking in the coaches' poll and nine below defending national champion Ohio State, which became the first unanimous No. 1 preseason selection in poll history....

    Defending champion Ohio State and coach Urban Meyer open as a unanimous AP No. 1.
  9. Florida State turns back to Mario Pender to carry rushing load

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — When Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher faced questions about his depth at running back after star Dalvin Cook was charged with misdemeanor battery, Fisher fell back to one key point.

    If Mario Pender had stayed healthy last year, most college football fans would never have even heard of Cook.

    So as Cook, last year's leading rusher, remains indefinitely suspended heading into today's scheduled trial, the Seminoles seem just fine trusting their backfield to the 5-foot-10, 196-pound Pender....

    Mario Pender takes off for 56 yards against Wake Forest, FSU’s longest run last season.
  10. Six Florida Gators earn scholarships Saturday

    Blog

    ...

  11. Florida Gators' QB battle could last into the season, and more scrimmage notes

    Blog

    Florida's quarterback competition might not be settled until the season opener.

    Gators coach Jim McElwain said there's still little separation between sophomore Treon Harris and redshirt freshman Will Grier, even after Friday night's scrimmage.

    "Those two guys are progression and, you know, no clear separation yet," McElwain said. "And that's OK. That's all right."

    McElwain said both Harris and Grier moved the first-team offense well. Harris was a little more effective with the second unit, while Grier was better during situational parts....

  12. Jim McElwain tasked with restoring Fun 'n' Gun to Florida Gators' offense

    College

    GAINESVILLE — After quarterback struggles plagued Florida the past four years, new coach Jim McElwain picked an interesting analogy to reassure Gator fans that he understands the game's most important position.

    "I believe I can win with my dog, Clarabelle," McElwain said during his introductory news conference in December.

    Within a few days, McElwain's mutt had her own Twitter parody account (@clarabelleqb). But strip away the humor, and McElwain's track record backs up his confidence. Nearly everywhere the 53-year-old Montana native has been, his quarterbacks have put up big numbers — even if the players weren't exactly the pick of the litter....

    McElwain’s rep for producing quarterbacks gave rise to a Twitter account for his dog.
  13. Lee Roy Selmon, Deion Sanders, Tim Tebow among FWAA's all-time greats

    Blog

    Former Bucs legend Lee Roy Selmon and Florida State great Deion Sanders were among the first-team selections to the Football Writers Association of America's 75th anniversary All-America team.

    Selmon starred at Oklahoma to earn a spot on the FWAA's list of the top college football players in that time span. Selmon later became the first draft pick in Bucs history, as well as the franchise's first Hall of Fame player....

    Lee Roy Selmon starred at Oklahoma to earn a spot on the FWAA's list of the top college football players in that time span. Selmon later became the first draft pick in Bucs history, as well as the franchise's first Hall of Fame player.