As recently as about a week ago, I was pretty confident Cleveland (OH) Benedictine linebacker Jerome Baker would be a Buckeye. When he moved up his decision timetable a few weeks ago, all signs pointed to Ohio State. Not to mention, he has only made one visit apiece to the other top contenders, Florida and Tennessee. However, in the last week, Florida has gained a ton of momentum, and now the worst possible outcome for OSU fans has come to fruition: Baker has chosen Florida over Ohio State and Tennessee.
A lot of credit has to be given to Florida defensive coordinator/linebackers coach D.J. Durkin, who Baker told me last week was the coach he had grown the closest to over the duration of the recruiting process. He also felt very at home when he visited Gainesville over the spring, which was a major factor in his recruitment.
Now do I think his recruitment is over? No. Especially with Gators head coach Will Muschamp very much on the hot seat heading into the football season. I haven't changed my pick on the 247Sports Crystal Ball because I'm strongly contemplating making a "flip pick" even with today's news.
Baker also told me when we spoke that he would "probably" take a couple of official visits, despite making an early commitment. If he follows through with that plan, Ohio State, Tennessee, and others will definitely be back in play for the standout athlete.
None the less, this is still a tough loss for the Buckeyes – and even tougher if it actually sticks from now until National Signing Day. For my money, he's the top player in the state of Ohio.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled State Secrets:
Larry "LJ" Scott spurns Bucks for Sparty
Hubbard (OH) running back Larry "LJ" Scott committed to play for Michigan State last night. It seemed like the Buckeyes had gained quite a bit on the Spartans after his June visit and I thought they may have been in the lead at one point. However, it comes as no surprise that he chose the Spartans as they were always right there in his recruitment.
Scott is a very good player and should fit perfectly in the Spartans' offense. His teammate, 2016 running back/wide receiver George Hill, is committed to Ohio State.
This is the first big domino to fall in running back recruiting. I can see this pushing Mike Weber to Michigan or Wisconsin (was previously a Michigan State lean) and could also send Darrin Hall (who was also very interested in MSU) to Kentucky. The other domino that could fall is Damien Harris, who definitely seems to be leaning towards the Buckeyes right now and could announce his decision sometime in the next couple of weeks.
We'll have more on Ohio State's running back situation as the recruiting cycle moves along.
Other recruiting updates
- Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Devante Peete is set to reveal his top five sometime today. I think Ohio State and Miami are pretty safe bets to make the cut for the tall wide receiver. He could fill a big void for the Buckeyes on the outside if he decided to play his college football in Columbus.
- Ohio State target Damien Harris and team Apocalypse won the 7-on-7 championship at "The Opening".
- Ohio State commit Justin Hilliard was named to the tournament's all-defensive team at "The Opening".