THE HIGH FLYER
Sherrod Baltimore’s boundless enthusiasm, willingness to learn and, yes, even his smile have made him an integral part of the Redblacks defence ... Quiet on trade deadline
SASKATOON — Early in training camp, Sherrod Baltimore was like a sponge, soaking up everything he could and hoping for an opportunity to get into the Ottawa Redblacks lineup.
His diligence, hard work and attention to detail paid off. The 25-year-old defensive back has become one of the Redblacks’ best defenders — with 38 tackles in 11 games. He’ll once again be put to a big test on Friday in Regina when the Redblacks face the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who have a very good receiving corps which includes Naaman Roosevelt and Duron Carter.
“The better the competition is, you know you have to bring your talent level up,” said Baltimore following Wednesday’s practice. “It brings the best of me out. When I know I’m playing against a player like Roosevelt or Duron, I know I have to come ready.”
Baltimore’s passion for football shows each day he’s on the field.
“(Sherrod) loves what he does,” said Redblacks defensive backs coach Ike Charlton. “Guys like Jerrell (Gavins), (Antoine) Pruneau, Corey Tindal and him, they love to play the game. They’re like a different animal once they put that helmet on and it’s game day. They fly around like crazy. If something doesn’t go right, they get mad about it. They became students of the game and it shows.
“When we first saw him, he stood out right away in everything he did when it comes Defensive back Sherrod Baltimore, breaking up a pass intended for Lions’ Shaq Johnson and (right) all smiles at a Redblacks practice. to coverage. Our only question was: ‘Can he tackle?’ When we saw the pre-season game and saw him fly around, it was: ‘Yeah, we have to find a way to keep him here.’ He just got better every day. He’s like a kid who’s got his arms wrapped around the parent’s leg. That’s the way he was with me. Every day, it was: ‘Coach, coach, coach, talk to me. What do I need to know?’ That was every day. I welcomed that. He wanted to learn and his play has shown that.”
Other than his terrific attitude and his desire to get better, another thing that stands out about Baltimore is his smile. He’s a beast on the field, but off it, he’s one of the good guys in a locker room full of them.
The thing with Baltimore is he hasn’t changed much since his first couple of days of mini camp. The smile’s still there, the energy’s still there.
“I’m staying humble and embracing it,” he said. “God is good and I’m real thankful. I just want to stay focused and keep learning, keep working like I wasn’t (starting).”
His belief in God is an important part of his daily routine. He grew up in poverty, with his mom Sharisse on welfare. The family moved from home to home more than a dozen times in the Washington, D.C., area. At age 12, Baltimore lost two of his teeth when he was pistol whipped and robbed. Coming from what he calls “the struggle,” Baltimore appreciates the opportunity to play professional football and he’s sunk his teeth into it like a bulldog.
On Baltimore’s chest, stomach and arms are tattoos, including verses from the Bible. There are also messages such as ‘The Grind Don’t Stop.’ After playing four seasons for the University of Maine, the Redblacks have proven to be a good fit. Right now, it’s one day at a time — work and work some more. Fight for your job every day.
“I’m getting comfortable, man,” said Baltimore. “Things are slowing down a bit for me. But as soon as I think: ‘Oh yeah, I’ve got it.’ Then I see some new stuff. I have to keep working, don’t get complacent.
“The football field is a home for me. And Ottawa makes it a home. This is one of the best head coaches I’ve seen, I’ve never seen anything like this — the assistant coaches, too — Coach Ike and the D coordinator (Mark Nelson). They just make everything easy for me. It’s just love here for me.”