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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


Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

  1. Gators' Joey Ivie carries spirit of late sister


    GAINESVILLE — Joey Ivie's parents told him he didn't have to shoulder the pain of a grieving family.

    The Florida defensive lineman didn't have to blame himself for being 100 miles away from an accident he couldn't have prevented.

    When his only sister lay dying after a car crash in April, the 20-year-old Pasco High graduate didn't have to be the one in the room when Jordan took her final breath....

    UF’s Joey Ivie took on more responsibility after his sister died at 17. “For a big, scary defensive lineman he’s got a pretty big heart,” his father says.
  2. Report: Florida Gators to host Colorado State in 2018


    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....

  3. Introducing the new Sunshine State Report 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....

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


    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:...

  5. Tampa native Michael Frazier officially joins Lakers


    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....

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


    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....

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


    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. ...

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


    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.
  9. Florida State 10th in preseason AP poll; Ohio State unanimous No. 1


    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.
  10. Florida State turns back to Mario Pender to carry rushing load


    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.
  11. Six Florida Gators earn scholarships Saturday



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


    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....

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


    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....

    Treon Harris, above, is competing with Will Grier for Florida’s starting job; both say they have learned from McElwain already.