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Former Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker is ready to take his big game prowess to the NFL

After being drafted in the third round of last month’s NFL Draft, Baker joins the Miami Dolphins’ linebacking corps.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“Just watch me every game. I just go out there and do what I do. That’s pretty much it for me. There is a lot of talking and all of that, but when it’s time to play, that’s what I do. Just play.”

-Former Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker via Alain Poupart, Miami Dolphins

Last month, the Miami Dolphins drafted Jerome Baker in the third round of the NFL Draft, making Baker the 15th Ohio State linebacker to be drafted in the past 13 drafts. Baker will now join Raekwon McMillan, who was drafted last year by the Dolphins but missed the season due to injury, in Miami’s linebacking corps.

Baker has been fighting a bit of an uphill battle of late, which means he has even more to prove once he hits the field for the Dolphins. Not only are there questions about Baker’s role because he doesn’t quite possess the prototypical size for an NFL linebacker, but he also left the NFL Combine without showing just how fast he really is.

While to many a 4.53 40-yard dash might be plenty fast, Baker’s time at the NFL Combine wasn’t nearly as good as he had hoped. Despite a slow 40 time, there is no question that Baker has the ability to make big plays. Not only did Baker have a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown in 2016 against Oklahoma, but he hit double digits in tackles in a number of critical games for the Buckeyes the last two seasons.

Just because he is smaller than some of the star linebackers in the NFL, that doesn’t put the nail in Baker’s career. If anything, Baker will be fighting even harder to prove he belongs in the conversation with the elite linebackers in the NFL. If Baker is able to play to the potential that many know he possesses, then Miami got themselves quite a steal in the third round of the NFL Draft.

“We’re still seven months from the Early Signing Period, and potential departures will come into focus as the season progresses — as upperclassmen will excel or find themselves buried on the depth chart. But accepting commitments early on without the guarantee of an open roster spot ultimately depends on how much turnover Meyer and his staff want to deal with.”

-Andrew Lind, Eleven Warriors

Ohio State football was just recently able to get down to the 85 scholarship limit imposed by the NCAA, and next year, the Buckeyes might have even more work to do to reach that number if they keep accepting commitments. With just 10 seniors on the current roster, and nine commitments from the Class of 2019, the Buckeyes are already pressed for space on their roster next season.

The lack of available scholarships starting in 2019 is a problem that could very easily be cleared up, but a problem that wouldn’t be solved until after the Early Signing Day period. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see players like Nick Bosa, Mike Weber, and other juniors head to the NFL following this season, which would open up some scholarships.

Even though Urban Meyer is a master at recruiting, he’ll likely have a little more trouble this year, because he’ll have to tell recruits that while he wants them at Ohio State, he doesn’t exactly know if there will be a scholarship for them because of the roster crunch. In the end, Meyer and his staff will likely get who they want and still hit the 85 scholarship mark, it will just take a little more work this year than in the past.

“You know, men have been coaching men and women forever. So there is no secret. They’re student athletes. They’re people ... It’s just that women have not had the many opportunities that men have had to coach men and women.”

-Ohio State’s director of track and field Karen Dennis via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

Ohio State’s track and field program has been tough to slow down lately. Two months ago the Buckeyes won the Big Ten indoor team title, and last week Ohio State won their first outdoor title since 1993. The leader of the program is Karen Dennis, who was named Big Ten Indoor Coach of the Year and Outdoor Coach of the Year. By winning the award, Dennis became the first woman to be named Big Ten coach of the year for a men’s track and field team.

In 2006, athletic director Gene Smith decided to split the men’s and women’s track and field team after the retirement of longtime coach Russ Rogers. Smith already had a long relationship with Dennis and was very familiar with her coaching style. The decision by Smith to promote the assistant coach to head coach of the women’s team was an easy one.

In 2012, men’s coach Robert Gary was let go, and after two years with an interim coach, Smith decided to combine the teams once again, leaving Dennis as the director of the program. The decision has been one of the best Smith has made during his time in Columbus.

The list of accomplishments from Dennis as not only an athlete, but as a coach is incredible, and she is still adding to it — recently named one of six 2018 Ohio State Glass Breakers. What Dennis is doing with the Buckeyes will open the door for even more women in the future to coach men teams. Ohio State’s track and field program is finding success and the reason for it is because of what Dennis brings to the team.