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McMurry Football- Day 3 Of Practice

<font size="2"><span style="font-size:10pt;">While McMurry University's football team went through its third practice session on Sunday evening - its first "shells" (helmets and shoulder pads) workout - we decided to take time to introduce you to senior D.J. Baiza (Post, Texas), who is entering his fourth season with McM head coach Hal Mumme. However, this is one D.J. who almost got "scratched" himself, when it came to his War Hawks' football career.</span></font>
ABILENE, Texas - While McMurry University's football team went through its third practice session on Sunday evening - its first "shells" (helmets and shoulder pads) workout - we decided to take time to introduce you to senior D.J. Baiza (Post, Texas), who is entering his fourth season with McM head coach Hal Mumme. However, this is one D.J. who almost got "scratched" himself, when it came to his War Hawks' football career.

Baiza came to McMurry from Post, Texas, a town with a population of around 4,000 and located about 35 miles southeast of Lubbock along Highway 84.  At 5-9, 135 pounds, Baiza played football, baseball and basketball at Post High School, where he was a 2007 graduate. But his stature did not lend itself to that of a prototypical college football player and he was instead recruited to become a War Hawk on the baseball diamond.

Upon arriving at McM, Baiza was a part of the War Hawks' American Southwest Conference baseball championship team in the spring of 2008. While a member of the baseball team, Baiza became friends with current War Hawks' quarterback Jake Mullin, who had only been playing baseball himself at that time.

Mullin, a standout QB at Burleson High School as a prep, had decided to give football a try under McMurry's then-new head coach Hal Mumme in the spring of 2009. Mullin had played intramural football with Baiza at McMurry, so he tried to persuade his baseball teammate to join him for McM football's spring drills, as well.

Baiza declined and stuck with baseball.  Or so he thought.

By the fall of 2009, Baiza had a change of heart and wanted to give intercollegiate football a whirl. The trouble was that the start of the 2009 season was only a little more than a week away and Baiza had not been a part of any of the War Hawks' training.

Baiza approached Mumme about joining the team, but was quickly told no because he had not gone through any of the drills like the rest of the squad. After getting the thumbs down, Baiza told Mullin that Mumme had nixed the idea.

Mullin, who had already earned a starting spot on varsity as a freshman signal-caller for the War Hawks, decided to call Mumme and speak with him about Baiza. Eventually, he convinced Mumme to allow Baiza to suit up for the junior varsity team in an upcoming scrimmage versus the varsity.

During that scrimmage, the junior varsity coaches called for their punt return team to take the field. The player who was slated to return punts was not paying attention and did not go onto the field when summoned, so Baiza seized the opportunity and ran out in his place.

The ensuing punt came to Baiza, who promptly scampered 65 yards with the return...and the rest - as they say - is history. Mumme allowed Baiza to join the War Hawks in 2009 with the defined role as a punt return specialist.

Since that time, Baiza has worked his way up to a starting role as a cornerback, while also continuing his punt return duties.  Last season, he led the team in interceptions (6) and punt returns (14.9 yards per return), as well as booking 44 tackles (eighth on the team).  The speedster from Post returned one interception and two punts for touchdowns in 2011 alone, earning him second team All-ASC and second team all-region accolades. More than that, Baiza has become one of the War Hawks' team leaders both on and off the field.

As far as his future goes, Baiza is looking toward a career as a chiropractor. So, when foes and fans get a sore neck from a quick head-turn to watch him go by, Baiza will be able to give them an adjustment down the road.

After all - to even get the opportunity to play football for the War Hawks - "adjusting" is a skill that Baiza has already mastered.
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