Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings take UCLA guard in sixth round

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Vikings, NFL draft Updated: April 27, 2013 - 4:51 PM

 The Vikings used the 28th pick in the sixth round (the 196th overall) on UCLA lineman Jeff Baca, who grew up in California going to Bruins games with his father, who is now deceased.

Baca made 45 career starts at UCLA, including eight at left tackle as a true freshman. Overall, he started 25 at guard and 20 at tackle. He also played some center at the Senior Bowl. He was a second-team all-Pac-12 by the coaches in 2012 and was named the team’s outstanding senior of the year on offense.

He was academically ineligible in 2010. In 2011 he hurt his ankle during spring practice and needed surgery. He returned in time for the second game of that season, starting at tackle the rest of the year.

Baca is considered to be one of the more tenacious blockers in this draft class, especially adept at pass protection. But, even at 6-3 and 302 pounds he is not overly large by today’s offensive line standards. 

 

Baca said in a conference call that he was thrilled with the prospect of blocking for Adrian Peterson, was comfortable playing any position on the offensive line and said his versatility and athletic ability were his strongest points. 

 

About that 2010 ineligibility? He said he was a pre-med major his first two years at UCLA. In the spring quarter of 2010 he took Spanish, biology and chemistry, failing two of the three. After that? "I changed my major to political science and ended up making the honor roll seven of the eight quarters after that," he said. 

So, the moral of that story is that being a politician is easier than being a doctor? "Absolutely," he said.

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