One Week to Wait for Baratz

Bloomington – The IU staff has let Naperville (Ill.) North offensive lineman Jake Baratz know they're awaiting word from two in-state linemen on scholarship offers, and if either says no, he's next on their list...

Bloomington – Jake Baratz is hoping to get some good news from the IU coaching staff in about a week.

That's when the 6-5, 275-pound offensive lineman from Naperville (Ill.) North H.S. expects to find out whether or not he's going to get an offer from IU. Baratz was in Bloomington approximately two weeks ago and performed well enough to draw the praise of IU offensive line coach Bobby Johnson and also move up the Hoosiers' recruit board.

"Coach (Kevin) Conner said they are waiting on two local guys and if one of those guys doesn't commit, I'm the next guy on the list," Baratz said.

Those two in-state players would presumably be Cathderal's Kyle Koehne and Bishop Chatard's Zach Martin, a pair of top-100 linemen who have been on IU's radar for some time. Both were offered by Indiana months ago, and both have since added a slew of other offers as well.

If IU's plans fall through with either Koehne or Martin and Baratz gets an IU offer, he'll be giving Coach Bill Lynch's program serious consideration. He said he's currently favoring Indiana and Arizona, which offered him after he attended one of their senior camps last month.

"For both, I love the campuses," Baratz said. "You can't beat them. Some schools, the town, the locals aren't as into it as they are at these two places. The people of Bloomington seem to love the college, and I want to go to a big school with a nice town where there are things to do. With the academics, business, both schools are phenomenal."

The biggest difference between the two is location. IU is a 4-5 hour car ride from the Chicago suburb, while Arizona is a day's worth of travel by plane.

"Indiana is a perfect distance - it's not too close and it's not too far," Baratz said. "A

rizona is obviously really far away. Getting home you have to take a flight and spend the day traveling, I just don't know if I'd do that."

Whichever program ends up getting Baratz will welcome an athletic offensive lineman who has flown under the radar until recently. A grade-two MCL injury last season sidelined Baratz for five weeks and limited the amount of film he had to send out to college recruiters. He's since made up for that with one-day senior day camp trips to Northern Illinois (offer), Arizona, Indiana, Northwestern and Iowa, and he's shown that the knee is 100 percent.

"The injury wasn't that bad to start off with," Baratz said. "The way we were last season as far as going 13-1 and winning the Class 8A state title game by 50 points, it wasn't critical that I rush back. I wanted to come back perfect."

Based on the offers and interest he's secured on his recent camp swing, Baratz does appear to be at full strength.

A former standout in AAU basketball who didn't start playing football until the eighth grade, Baratz appears to possess many of the attributes offensive line coach Bobby Johnson covets. While he has good size, it's his athleticism and versatility that stands out.

"When it comes to bag drills, shuttles, ladders and all that stuff, I can do that really well," Baratz said. "My agility and athleticism are two of my biggest strengths."

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