Cleveland (Ohio) Benedictine class-of-2015 athlete Jerome Baker is impressing college football programs with his film from this past fall.
A two-way standout, Jerome Baker has a chance to be the state of Ohio's top prospect in 2015.
It won’t be long before the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Baker impresses these coaches with plenty more.
Baker moved to the varsity level this past season as a sophomore but instantly grabbed the leadership reigns like he was a seasoned senior.
“He has a very strange ability and strange understanding of how to treat people for such a young person,” Benedictine head coach Joe Schaefer said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s a pat a kid on the back or get in his face, he can do both and that’s why people respect him because he does do both.”
A few recruiters are already beginning to catch on to what the Benedictine community already knows. Ohio State, Florida, Louisville and Penn State were the first four programs to offer Baker a scholarship, with each full-ride coming in the last week.
“It was great,” Jerome Baker Sr. said. “I’m really proud of my son. First of all, he’s a great kid, great young man. He’s very focused, very determined. His character of who is he is, not just being a leader on the football field, but being a leader in schools. He’s a multi-talented person.”
It’s easy for Baker to take charge in any activity after watching his father do it for so long in the community. The elder Baker started a non-profit back in 2006 called Men Of Central. The community organization does everything from helping young kids stay out of trouble and focus on improving their grades, to raising money for youth programs.
The younger Baker has been active in helping, and even serves as the Men Of Central photographer.
“He sees the amount of work it takes to put on events,” the elder Baker said. “The type of image it takes to be a positive influence on young kids.”
“I really enjoy it,” the younger Baker said. “Being around kids and listening to my Dad talk, it gives you a new outlook on life. You can see the different types of people, the different sides of people, and just being around kids, I take mostly all the pictures and I can see the smiles in the pictures and different expressions in the pictures. When people say a picture is worth a thousand words that is true. Seeing somebody smile is like money to me.”
With Baker’s charm and work ethic, players on the Benedictine football team quickly gravitated towards him.
“Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re the leader,” Baker said. “I feel like that’s my job really. There is a lot of ways to lead. Lead by example. If I do a pretty good job on the field and work my hardest and give it all I have, people are going to watch me and follow me. I always want to make sure everyone around me is getting better. Leading is not just about age. It’s how hard you play and how hard you work.”
It all came together for Baker on Friday nights. The two-way standout had over 100 tackles and is leaning towards playing defense on the next level.
“You watch the film, not a highlight tape and he’s all over the place,” Schaefer said. “He’s batting down balls down in coverage. He’s rushing the quarterback. He has an unbelievable motor. He never stops. For a young kid to understand how important that is in football, that’s pretty impressive.”
Baker had a Sparq score in the 106 range at last weekend’s Nike Football Training Camp in Washington D.C., including a 4.52 electronic time in the 40-yard dash. As he improves athletically, Baker has a chance to grow into a 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker. He’ll certainly be in the discussion for top player in the state of Ohio.
“You don’t have to push him or force him,” Baker Sr. said. “He’s a great student of the game. Great attitude, very coachable, comes to practice, works out, goes home and does school work. He’s very focused.”
Landing an offer from Ohio State over the weekend has made Baker even more focused.
“Honestly when Ohio State offered me first it surprised me,” Baker said. “It really surprised me. But I was excited. I just knew my hard work was paying off. I still want to work hard and show Ohio State that they offered the right guy and continue to let them know they offered me for a reason.”
Baker got a chance to talk with Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday and he’s hoping to visit the Columbus campus the second weekend of May.
“Urban Meyer is a great coach,” Baker said. “He could sense I was kind of nervous but he calmed me down and had a conversation with me. It was very exciting knowing Urban Meyer was on the other side of the phone
“I’m very big on tradition. That right there, that’s the biggest thing for me. I just love tradition. Even the high school I go to now is about tradition. Ohio State’s tradition and the Michigan rivalry game is just big. I love that and that whole tradition. Being part of something like that at a school like Ohio State or Michigan would be just great.”
Michigan could be the next program to offer and Baker is planning to visit Ann Arbor the first weekend of May. He said the Wolverines were the first school to show interest in him during the fall and they paid him a visit at the school earlier this week.
This past weekend, Baker got a chance to visit Penn State for the Nittany Lions spring game. His father called the offers from Ohio State and Penn State dream offers for his son.
“Penn State’s stadium is truly very big,” Baker said. “Just to see the support Penn State has just for the spring game was amazing. It was a very exciting experience. I really liked it. I really, really liked it.”
A good student, Baker holds close to a 3.0 GPA. He’s a leader on and off the field. He’s a dynamic athlete in pads. The final trait college coaches will be drawn to is Baker’s confidence. In his mind, he’s capable of banging on the practice fields at an Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan right now.
“I believe that I can hang with anybody,” Baker said. “That’s the thing in football, you have to always have the confidence in yourself. I have it. If I get on the field with a college player, he’s in my territory.”