In the latest episode of Gator Country’s weekly podcasts with Nick de la Torre and Andrew Spivey, Florida linebacker commit Jerome Baker joins us to talk about his commitment to the Florida Gators.
Baker also talks about why he picked Florida over Ohio State and which prospects he’s recruiting to join him in Gainesville, Florida.
This is the fourth of many great podcast episodes to come, so stay tuned for more!
Nick: Welcome to GatorCountry.com’s recruiting podcast for the Class of 2015. I’m Nick de la Torre joined by recruiting coordinator Andrew Spivey. On this edition we’ll welcome in Cleveland, Ohio Benedictine High School athlete Jerome Baker. Baker recently committed to Florida, spurning Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes in the process. Before we bring Baker on, Andrew, talk to us a little bit about what kind of prospect and what kind of player Gator fans can look forward to here when Jerome gets on campus.
Andrew: Coach Muschamp recruited Jerome to play the WILL linebacker position, and he’s a big hitting, fast linebacker, runs in the low 4.5’s, and just a hard-hitting linebacker who’s going to bring that Ohio linebacker to the south. I think he will fit in very well to the WILL linebacker position.
Nick: Okay. We’ll bring Jerome in. Jerome, Andrew saying that Florida’s recruited you for that defensive side of the ball. Are you going to miss running the ball a little bit? I know you played running back in high school. Are you going to miss having the ball in your hands?
Jerome: A little bit. It’s really fun running the ball and just scoring touchdowns is one thing I miss, but I’m fine with it. I’m ready to play linebacker.
Nick: Wouldn’t you rather be the guy hitting people than the guy getting hit?
Jerome: Yes, I definitely like hitting people more than being hit. It’s just more fun, and it hurts less.
Andrew: Jerome can you talk about your decision. I know you told me that it was a lot of Coach Durkin and feeling at home at Florida. Can you give us a brief description of why it was Florida and at what point you kind of decided it was Florida?
Jerome: It was Florida’s a little different than what I’m used to, and it was very laid back. If anybody knows me, that’s just who I am. I like to sit back and watch and have fun and do what I’m supposed to do. Florida fits me very well, and when I went down there I really meshed with the players and coaches, and I just had a great time. It just really felt like Florida was the right place for me, and it was about two weeks before I decided that I knew Florida was the school that I was going to pick. It was just a matter of decision day and just waiting for that.
Andrew: Now you describing yourself also describes Coach Durkin almost to a dime. Is that a pretty accurate statement that you and Coach Durkin both have that laid back approach? Was that something that helped you in the process?
Jerome: Yes. Coach Durkin was a big help. He’s very, very honest. Sometimes it hurts Florida, but he’s honest, and that’s one thing I knew from the start that if he’s going to be honest, then I would love to play for him. That was one thing I really respected him with, and I’m just happy to be a Gator.
Nick: Is that something that stuck out to you, even if you have questions, even if it didn’t help Florida you felt like Coach Durkin and the other coaches would give you the honest answer? Even if they knew, hey, this answer might not help us as far as Jerome’s recruitment.
Jerome: Yes. He told me when I went down there, he’s not going to pressure anything. If it’s the right school it’s the right school, and he’s really just been honest the whole time. That’s one thing I really lie about him what that he was very honest.
Andrew: Now switching directions a little bit, you’re going to go from Cleveland to the SEC. How excited are you to play in the SEC? How are excited are you to play in the state of Florida?
Jerome: I’m very excited. Warm weather, very tough competition in SEC, and that’s one thing that really stood out really big. I’m just excited to be in Florida, just have fun.
Andrew: Now Florida hasn’t signed a prospect from Ohio since 2002, when they signed DeShawn Wynn but now there’s an opportunity for Florida to get two of you guys, you and George Brown. How much have you talked to George? Earlier today you told me you talked to him when he got on campus. How much have you talked to him, and how much have you been recruiting?
Jerome: George is like my best friend. Two Ohio guys, we’re just laid back and just have fun. That’s what we do. We laugh and joke around. We are on the phone and texting and everything. He’s just a funny guy. I really haven’t pressured him to come to Florida or anything. I’m just letting him have fun with his process and just enjoy it. I just hope he choose Florida, but if he doesn’t we’re still going to be the best of friends.
Andrew: Now, to wrap up with your recruiting. Are you recruiting anybody? You said not George, but are you recruiting anybody else? Have you reached out to anybody else? Has any Florida commits reached out to you?
Jerome: Yes. It’s been a lot of recruiting, but I’m not into pressuring anybody to commit. I just have a conversation with them and tell them that Florida is on the rise, and I’m just a guy that I believe in it, and I hope they believe in it too. It isn’t so many guys I’ve talked to and recruit that’s committed. I’m just going to guys that people tell me that they’re interested in Florida, and just tell them why I love it, hoping they can join on.
Andrew: Before we get you off of here, what can Florida fans expect to see from Jerome when Jerome gets on the football field next year in the fall?
Jerome: A very fun watching guy, very fast, exciting. He’s just a good guy. That’s one thing they can expect. I’m going to work hard and just give everything I can give to Florida.
Nick: Yeah, before we let you go I’m going to hit you with my five little rapid fire questions here. Are you ready?
Jerome: Yes, I’m ready.
Nick: Who is your favorite Gator?
Jerome: Tim Tebow.
Nick: Okay. Orange or blue?
Nick: Do you have any pregame rituals?
Jerome: Eat Skittles.
Nick: Skittles, why Skittles?
Jerome: I don’t know. I just love the rainbow taste and it helps me relax.
Nick: Maybe channeling an inner Marshawn Lynch
Jerome: Yes, a little bit.
Nick: Lebron or KB?
Nick: Okay, you happy to be back in Cleveland?
Jerome: Yes, I’m very happy, but kind of crazy because he came up, and I went back down.
Nick: Alright. Last one here. Would you rather score a touchdown or get a sack?
Jerome: I’d probably say score a touchdown.
Andrew: Definitely. Jerome, we appreciate you coming on. Is there a last message you want to give Gator fans before we get you off of here?
Jerome: I’m happy to be a Gator, and go Gators.
Andrew: Jerome, we appreciate you joining us today. I think I speak for everybody with happy to talk to you and can’t wait to see you down on campus.
Jerome: Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Nick: We appreciate it Jerome.