- Steve Baylark (photo by Ben Barnhart)
Betty Wilda was skeptical when she learned her new intern played football. “When I heard we were getting a star football player, I thought he’d be cocky,” says Wilda, producer/director at AIMS Video Services, an on-campus media company. “He’s been just the opposite. He’s been great to work with. He’s a real team player, a real sweetheart.”
That sweetheart is Minuteman senior running back Steve Baylark, although it might be hard to convince opposing teams’ defensive backs that he fits that description. He’s stiff-armed and toppled quite a few of them on his way to a historic career.
Baylark, who has twice won the Atlantic 10’s rushing title, including this year, never thought he was going to be a star. As he put the final touches on a brilliant career, he admitted he didn’t expect any of it.
“I thought it was just going to be my way to get through school,”
said Baylark, who was a fullback in high school in Apopka, Florida,
but switched to tailback at UMass Amherst. In a program with an impressive
history of dominant running backs, the tough-to-tackle Baylark will
leave as one of the best ever to play the position here. He’ll leave
Amherst as the school’s number-two all-time rusher, second only to
NFL-veteran Marcel Shipp ’00.
As a senior, Baylark accomplished something even Shipp couldn’t match.
Baylark’s 152 yards against Northeastern on October 28 pushed him
past 1,000 yards for the season, making him just the third player
in Division I-AA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four different
“It’s a great feeling to be recognized,” Baylark says. “Not just
for me, but for my offensive line.”
While he’s not a lock to follow Shipp to the NFL, Baylark will likely
get a chance to make a professional roster next fall. But if doesn’t,
he’s prepared to make a career in video production or graphic design.
As an intern at AIMS, he’s gained experience as a member of a film
crew, creating graphics for videos, editing programs, even getting
in front of the camera.
“I think about [the NFL], but it’s not the biggest dream,” says Baylark,
who struggled academically early in college. “The biggest dream is
to get my degree. It’s really important to me. I will be the first
in my family to graduate from college. I like that title. I want
to be a role model for my younger sister, Crystal. She’s 10, and
she’s smart. I didn’t grow up loving school the way she does. Every
chance I get, I ask her about school and make sure she’s doing what
she should be.”
UMass coach Don Brown says that Baylark’s academic improvement has made him a better football player. “It’s made him a complete person. I think he’s much more confident in everything he does in all areas of his life,” Brown says. “He carries himself with confidence, and that’s helped him be the best player he can be. I’m really proud of him as a man.”