Durkin’s relationship was key for Baker

Linebacker Jerome Baker (6-1, 206, Cleveland, OH Benedictine) pulled a surprise on Friday by picking Florida over Ohio State but he told Gator Country that he had actually made up his mind weeks ago.

“About two weeks ago I decided that I was going to commit to Florida,” Baker said. “After I took my visit down there I knew it was a great place. I liked how they treated people. The whole atmosphere from the players to coaches they were all great. I knew I could see myself playing there after I left the visit.”

Baker has made no secret about his relationship with defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin but it really was the key in landing Baker for the Gators.

“Coach Durkin was the coach that I talked to the most during the whole process,” Baker said. “He was the coach that I had the best relationship with because I talk to him about anything. I talk to him daily.”

Not only will Baker have the opportunity to play for Durkin but the two can also relate to each when Baker feels homesick.

“He’s from the Ohio area and he knows my area,” Baker said. “He’s an honest guy and he understands what I’m going through. I really enjoy him and he’s told me things that I may not like but at least he’s honest. He’s straight forward.”

The need for linebacker is huge for Florida in 2015 but Baker says that the lack depth didn’t influence his decision to choose the Gators.

“In my eyes, with my talent and my effort I can go anywhere and play,” Baker said. “Florida not signing a linebacker last year is just icing on the cake.”

Florida hasn’t signed a prospect from Ohio since 2002 but this year the Gators have a chance to sign two as offensive lineman George Brown could commit to Florida in late July and Baker has a great relationship with him already.

“George is like my best friend,” Baker said. “We talk about everything from the recruiting process to life. He’s just a great guy. He has ended up being my best friend.”

Brown will make his way down to Florida for a visit on July 21st and Baker could possibly join him on the trip.

“My mom and I have plans to get down to Florida soon,” Baker said. “It will either be next week or the week of Friday Night Lights. George and I have talked about visiting at the same time.”

With the exception of Brown the Ohio linebacker hasn’t really talked to anyone but he plans to put his recruiting hat on for Florida soon.

“I haven’t started recruiting anyone yet but I will,” Baker said. “I know I will recruit George and others because we are going to have something special down in Florida.”

Before Baker committed to Florida, most people thought Ohio State was the pick and he admits that at one time they would have been but that changed and he doesn’t expect anyone to change his mind now that he’s committed.

“Ohio State was my leader at one point because that was the only school that I had seen but that was before I visited Florida,” Baker said. “I haven’t really decided on other visits but right now I don’t think so.”

As Gator Country was interviewing Baker said he wanted to give a message to Florida fans.

“I want to tell the fans, Go Gators,” Baker said.


INSIDERS TAKE: Baker made it seem like he wouldn’t take any other visits when he was asked but it will be something to monitor if Florida has a bad year. Also, having Baker in the class will only help Florida with George Brown (not that they needed any) when it comes decision time.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.


  1. As was the case with Thomas Holley last year, it sounds like Baker is going to come to UF is Durkin is still in Gainesville after this season. That’s the elephant in the room, will this coaching staff be here in 2015?

    • No snow print. You are the elephant in the room. Always pretending to be a Gator fan, when you can’t hid your hate for our program. This staff isn’t going anywhere, and we will win 10 or more games.

  2. Gatorsdominate I suggest you mortgage the house and get out to Vegas since the line is 7.5 wins for UF. I don’t see this team dominating anyone, but if you’re right, you can make a lot of money. I can’t remember the last time UF dominated anyone. When is the last time UF was able to pull the starters in a game, even against the cupcakes? I’m just being realistic about the coaches, it’s not like I’m the only one saying it. Every time Mushamp is mentioned, his place as a guy on the hot seat is discussed.

  3. IMO, we should STOP always bringing up the hot-seat crap. As for when’s the last time, just watch the product on the field this year. The defense will be as overwhelming as ever. And with Roper showing ALL what those “in the know” already expect, our “O” will finally put up points and lots of ’em. Though with fan reaction like yours, maybe it’s best if we don’t pull any starters all season long and just run up every single score. And yes, I suspect it will be a little while before Vegas catches up. The Gators are going to have a very, very good 2014. Muschamp & Co is going anywhere. Enjoy for once.