Baylor Shook is willing to do what he can to help the Van Buren Pointers football team.
When the coaches were looking at replacing players who have graduated and lost a lot of guys “in the box.” They needed guys to play the roles.
The coaches kept circling back to Shook in moving him from strong safety to linebacker. When they sat down to talk to him, Shook was ready to go.
“First off, I love his attitude about changing over to linebacker this season. Last year, he was great at [safety] and made some huge plays for us,” said coach Crosby Tuck. “We were looking at replacing five of the six guys we had in the box and was looking at who would be the most impactful for us from a personnel standpoint. We thought Baylor would be a perfect fit for us.
“A returning senior learning a new position is a little unusual, but he was willing to do it and put the work in to do it. And I like what he has done for us in the first two weeks.”
Shook has made 10 stops this season and returned a fumble back 98 yards for a touchdown.
“When I got to about the 20, I knew I had broken away,” Shook said. “It was great and I was glad to do my part to help the team.”
Shook is also learning to play receiver.
“He’s doing a lot of new stuff and is willing to do it,” Tuck said.
Shook played at safety as a sophomore and moved into a starting role as a junior.
“I like being a linebacker. I had to put on some more weight since I’m in the box and I have to run blitzes through a lot more guys, but I like it a lot,” said Shook. “
The change has brought on more confidence for Shook.
“He’s a very positive young man and a very confident young man,” Tuck said. “He’s put on a lot of weight in the weight room to help himself on defense. He’s a good positive guy who is a good senior leader for us.”
“This group of seniors has been great leaders this season,” said Shook. “They stepped up. We have some sophomores who are out there with us who are starters. We’re letting them know that we’re there for them and helping them. Football is tough but it’s worth it. You have to stick it out and just keep going. I never would have been a linebacker or a receiver if I didn’t stick with football.”
Overall, the confidence has grown for the team and the seniors this season.
“I’m feeling pretty confident about the [Choctaw] game and we have a pretty good game plan,” Shook said. “Looking at the conference… I think it’s going to be a pretty fun conference to play and we’re confident that we can get a conference championship. With each win and each success our confidence grows.”
The lessons learned on the practice field has helped Shook’s confidence not just on Friday nights but in the classroom as well.
“These coaches do a great job preparing us,” Shook said. “If I have a bad play, I just try to put it behind me and keep going… to learn and adjust from it.”
While Van Buren, along with every other team in the state, was placed on hold during the spring and early summer to help slow down the spread of COVID-19, Shook said the team was able to get moving quickly to get ready for the 2020 football season.
“We just went work to get what we needed to get ready,” he said. “We didn’t have much time to adjust… it was just all work,” said Shook. “We knew coming into the season we had a good chance to do well in conference and the coaches knew that as well so they’ve just been getting us ready to have a big year. In 7A, we knew we had a chance in every game, but this time we know we have a chance and we’ll be able to match up better against schools that are more our size.”
Shook also has plans to rejoin the basketball season after missing some time due to shoulder surgery last season.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the court. It’s been a while since I had the chance to play,” Shook said.
Shook, who grew up in Van Buren as both parents graduated from the high school, got involved in football by the second grade. His team won three bi-state championships between the second and fifth grades. “I was hooked by that point,” said Shook. “Honestly, I just love football. Getting the chance to get in there and score touchdowns… it’s just a different feeling. Going on to representing the city and turning the football program around.”