POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River's Ronald Baker (Prentiss; Jefferson Davis) has been named to the 2020 Academic All-America College Division Men's At-Large Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
The college division includes two-year institutions, Canadian institutions and any United States four-year institutions that are not affiliated with the NCAA or NAIA.
Baker is the first CoSIDA Academic All-American in Pearl River history.
"This means a lot to me," Baker said. "I'm a first generation college student in my family. I have four sisters and two brothers, with two younger siblings who look up to me, so I'm trying to set a new standard.
"This is a great feeling actually. I have to give all the glory to God."
ON THE FIELD
Baker epitomized what it means to be a complete student athlete during his time at The River.
Out of Jefferson Davis High School, Baker had his choice of schools at the next level but ultimately settled on The River.
"A big reason I chose Pearl River was because of the academics," he said. "They were the best academic, as well as football. I was thinking beyond football."
Once at PRCC, Baker made an immediate impact on the Wildcat team. He was a two year starter and eventual team captain. After coming off the bench in his PRCC debut in 2018, Baker made 17 consecutive starts in the defensive backfield.
Baker finished his Pearl River career with 68 tackles — 32 as a freshman and 36 as a sophomore — with 11 pass breakups.
Instead of listing one play, or personal moment when asked about what he'll remember about his days representing the Maroon and Gold, Baker said he'll miss his teammates the most.
"Just the brotherhood. No matter the outcome of the game we always stuck together," he said. "We didn't bash each other about winning. We always stuck together.
"I consider them my brothers."
IN THE CLASSROOM
In the classroom, Baker was just as determined, if not more.
Studying Mechanical Engineering, Baker was a permanent fixture on PRCC's President's List with a 4.0 grade point average.
Additionally, Baker was a member of Pearl River's House of Representatives as a freshman and was the PRCC Student Government Vice President this year. He was also the Vice President of philanthropy for Phi Theta Kappa and a member of Mu Alpha Theta.
Baker said his drive comes from a place of competition. Whether he's suited up on the field or has his nose in a textbook, he's giving 100 percent.
"No matter what I do I try to do the best at it," he said. "If I'm walking, I want to beat you walking."
Like many student athletes with a dream beyond the field, Baker made sacrifices.
"I skipped parties and missed social functions to study but I have a goal in mind," he said. "That's what I try to keep focus on, God and wherever he tries to take you."
After graduating from PRCC, Baker had opportunities to continue to play at the next level but opted instead to attend Mississippi State, where he'll continue his studies in the Mechanical Engineering field.
"It means a lot to me to have my first degree in hand," he said. "It represents everything I've been through so far. If it ever gets hard, I can just look back and say to myself one milestone is down and to keep going."
Although his playing days are now behind him.
ABOUT THE HONOR
The 10 members of the men's team had an average GPA of 3.93 as five student-athletes had a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Despite the cancellation of spring competition during COVID-19, CoSIDA continued its sponsorship of the Academic All-America awards program. Student-athletes were selected based on career statistics.
For more information on the Academic All-America® program, go to https://academicallamerica.com/.