When cornerback Drew Baldwin ’12 made his first collegiate start for the football team at Georgetown as a sophomore, his parents drove up from Alexandria, Va. to watch his play. Just nine minutes into the first quarter, Baldwin made his first career interception. Yale opened the scoring with a field goal three plays later and went on to win, 31–10.
“It was the greatest feeling ever knowing I had so much family in the stands,” Baldwin said.
His family will be on hand again to watch his last college start, and Baldwin expects to see his parents, older brother, grandparents, cousins and family friends looking down at him from the Yale Bowl stands when he takes the field against Harvard on Saturday.
Many of those family members also boast varsity letters. His father played cornerback for the University of Pennsylvania’s sprint football team and his mother gained entry to the Penn Athletics and Big 5 Halls of Fame on the Penn basketball team. Baldwin’s older brother ran track at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for four years as well, competing in the long jump and triple jump.
Baldwin said that sports brought his family together, and that his parents have been incredibly supportive of him while at Yale. They have made the six-hour drive from their home in Virginia to every home game and also driven to every one of his away games.
“I don’t take them for granted,” Baldwin said. “They are such a huge part of how I was brought up and one of the reasons why I’m even here.”
Baldwin, whom teammates call a talented and dependable force on the defensive secondary, said he is looking to Saturday’s game as a chance to lead by example and finish his Yale football career with a win. Facing the first-ranked offense in the Ivy League, the Bulldogs will lean heavily on Baldwin and the rest of their secondary to contain Crimson quarterback Collier Winters.
Since his freshman year, Baldwin has contributed to the Yale defense and won the Charles Loftus Award for most valuable freshman his first season wearing Yale blue. He has started every game since his sophomore year.
Baldwin leads the team this year in defended passes, with an interception and eight broken-up passes. This statistic places him in second in the Ivy League, close behind Harvard’s Matthew Hanson with 10.
“I try doing everything I can to help the team,” Baldwin said. “If that means breaking up a pass, then that’s great.”
A political science major, Baldwin hopes to play professional football after graduation. To achieve that goal, he will train hard after the season is over and participate in Yale’s Pro Day in April. But he is realistic and said he will look for a job in the financial sector if a career in athletics does not pan out.
Cornerback Dawson Halliday ’12 described Baldwin as a laid-back, calming presence who leads by example on the team.
“If I had to describe him in a word, I’d say Drew was dependable,” Halliday said. “No matter what the situation, he’s always someone you can look to for leadership and words of wisdom.”
Whether in practice or in games, Halliday said Baldwin strives to encourage the team, lend his advice on how to fix mistakes and help everyone around him improve.
According to Sherman Deck, Baldwin’s high school defensive coordinator in Virginia, Baldwin displayed the same maturity during high school.
“Drew was another coach on the field, even as a freshman,” Deck said. “I can’t tell you a game that he didn’t make a contribution.”
The Bulldogs will be looking to Baldwin’s leadership over the weekend. They face a tough challenge in the Crimson, a team that has already clinched the Ivy League title with an undefeated league record and overcome the Bulldogs for four straight years.
As a senior who has never tasted Yale victory, Baldwin has every reason to see Saturday’s game as something special. But he said he aims to tackle it like any other game, with the quiet force that has defined him over the last four years.
“Every year we’ve been in the game, we’ve fought hard,” Baldwin said. “What we need to do is continue to play the way we’ve been playing and execute.”
Baldwin said he chose Yale because of the people he met on his recruiting visit, and he has developed a camaraderie with his teammates since that day. When he takes the field at the Yale Bowl for the last time on Saturday, he said he wants to go out on the field and play for his teammates.
“I’m sure he will enjoy every moment, soaking up the crowd, the fans and the friends he’s made along the way,” said Halliday, who said that he and Baldwin have reminisced at length recently about their last four years on the team. “He’ll enjoy the last time together [with his teammates] on the field.”