At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, Jerome Baker is a wanted student-athlete.
Rated the No. 7 outside linebacker in the country and a four-star prospect, the 2015 linebacker out of Cleveland (Ohio) Benedictine high school had coaches from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin drop by to see him last week alone.
For the Wolverines, it was defensive coordinator Greg Mattison that took the time to check-in on Baker.
“I really like Coach Mattison,” Baker said. “I just like talking to him. He’s a very fun, entertaining guy.
“It’s really funny talking to him and it really means a lot for him to come by just to talk a little bit to my coach. It was really good for me just to see him.”
Still having yet to make his way up to visit the Wolverines, Baker says it’s only a matter of time and that his relationship with Michigan continues to strengthen with consistent contact.
“It’s real good,” Baker said. “I haven’t gone up there yet but I’m excited to and I always tell my dad I really want to get up there to visit. We just haven’t been able to schedule it.
“We’ll probably get up there in the spring. The relationship with Michigan is great though. They want me to get up to Ann Arbor and I want to get up there.
On a visit to Michigan, Baker added, “It’s probably going to be a practice just to get a feel for it and see how practice is. That’s probably when I’ll end up going.”
Going in blind with no real preconceived notions of what the Michigan football program has to offer on campus, Baker plans to have his eyes wide open, ready to take in the total picture.
“The tradition of Michigan is what I want to see,” Baker said. “You always hear about it, you always read about it, I mean, we’re in Ohio so you really can’t feel it, what Michigan is.
“So when I get up to Michigan I want to see the Michigan helmets, the buildings, the legends of Michigan; I just want to experience the whole thing.”
Baker says he’s also planning visits to Tennessee and Michigan State this spring.
Of the Spartans, Baker spoke glowingly of defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi’s defense, one that helped lead Michigan State to a Big Ten championship, Rose Bowl win, and a 13-1 finish in 2013.
“Their defense,” Baker said. “I mean, their linebackers; that defense is fast, smart and their linebackers they just play; free flow, so, I like that and just to see the excitement of the Michigan State defense is crazy.”
Growing up in the shadow of Columbus, not far from the Ohio State football program, Baker remains in close contact with the Buckeyes.
“They show me a lot of love,” Baker said. “Ohio State, I call them probably every other week or something. I just talked to Coach Meyer a few days ago but Ohio State is just Ohio State. It’s my hometown team and we have a great relationship with Ohio State.”
Asked just how difficult it’ll be for another program to rip him away from Urban Meyer and Ohio State, Baker said that’s what visits are for.
“If I go somewhere else and I love it, that’s where I’m going to go,” he said. “It’s pretty simple. I wouldn’t say it’s that hard.”
As of right now, Baker plans to take all five of his official visits next fall and make a decision after that.
Until then, Baker will evaluate each school and decide which ones make the cut on his list.
“Before my senior year I’m going to have a top 10,” Baker said. “Those will be the final 10 schools I’ll be thinking of.
“My coaches tell me it’s probably not going to be a top 10, probably like eight or something so before my senior year I’m going to do that just to handle it all.”