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.