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Saturday, July 27, 2013
Baker rises to top at Friday Night Lights

By Brad Bournival

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A decent crowd showed up at The Horseshoe last night and Jerome Baker (Cleveland/Benedictine) didn’t disappoint.

Some of the biggest buzz at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights surrounded the 6-foot-1, 202-pound 2015 outside linebacker, and for good reason.

Ranked 157th in the ESPN Junior 300, Baker showed out in front of Buckeyes coaches and to a growing number of fans.

“It was something to get better, honestly,” Baker said. “Coming in I was really nervous. [The coaches] said to keep it up. They asked me how I liked it and I did.”

Ohio State, which offered Baker back in April, already knew what the budding junior had in terms of talent, but what he did at Friday Night Lights put him at another level.

When he was playing his natural position at linebacker, it was rare when someone got past him.

During route-running drills with Baker on offense, the linebackers could keep up with him until he turned toward the end zone, and then it wasn’t even a contest.

When the Buckeyes' brass wanted to see him in the backfield, it almost wasn’t even fair as he made cuts that had coaches and players alike excited.

“I think I did well,” Baker said. “Actually, Coach [Stan] Drayton told me he wanted to see me at running back. It was fun. I can punish people when I have the ball.”

Baker’s agility stood out and the fact he was so light on his feet made him almost unstoppable -- two traits he said he’s really made an effort to work on this offseason.

With his camp season finished, Baker’s attention now turns toward the high school season.

He’ll still take unofficial visits when he can. Schools such as Akron, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Tennessee and West Virginia have joined the Buckeyes with offers.

Ohio State was the first to offer the two-way standout and the in-state school is still very much in the picture as his recruitment reaches another level.

“They’re still there,” he said. “Nothing major changed, but [Friday Night Lights] was great.”