University of Nebraska Cornhuskers
Fort Scott Community College
North Carolina Tech Preparatory Christian Academy
Miami Central High School
The bigger the wide receivers and pass catching tight ends get in the National Football League, the bigger the premium defensive coaches are putting on their scouts to find, tall, physical cornerbacks to counter. The Huskers had the benefit of locating one of them right in their own "backyard," by way of Miami, where most elite cornerbacks usually end up playing for a Southeastern Conference or Atlantic Coast Conference school, instead.
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis credits Jean-Baptiste's ability to handle the tight ends and slot receivers in the short area as a crucial factor for the team's success in keeping plays in front of the secondary last season. Few cornerbacks in the Big Ten Conference showed the inside-the-box tackling skills that the junior college import possesses.
Jean-Baptiste's success in run support comes from his long arms, as he is able to reach out, grab and hold on to ball carriers until help arrives. He also shows the lower body strength to hold his ground at the point of attack, along with keeping his hands active in order to maintain outside leverage of stave off reach blocks to get through trash and clog the rush lanes.
The prospect from the Sunshine State was the only active Florida native on the 2013 Nebraska roster, but the recruiters have spread out from their normal areas and were able to locate two quality freshmen from the state that redshirted last season. By tapping into this vast wealth of talent, the staff has been able to restructure a roster once known for their lumbering style into a quick, decisive and attacking defensive unit, led by their boundary cornerback.
Jean-Baptiste attended Miami Central High School, where he played wide receiver and strong safety. As a senior, he had 21 catches for 569 yards and seven touchdowns through the first five games of the season. Defensively, as a safety, he registered six interceptions and two touchdowns.
Following high school, Jean-Baptiste spent one year at North Carolina Tech Christian Academy, totaling 36 receptions for 580 yards in 2008. He later attended Fort Scott Community College, but never played for the Kansas school. It was during his time at Fort Scott that he was discovered accidentally by a Nebraska recruiter that came to the school to see another player.
Jean-Baptiste was encouraged to try out at Nebraska, arriving at the university for the 2010 semester. He would redshirt that season, working out on the scout team as a wide receiver. He remained at that position for the start of his first varsity season, but after seeing limited action on offense — just one catch for seven yards, he was switched to the defensive backfield for the final nine games on the 2011 schedule.
Nebraska's stunning come-from-behind victory over Ohio State that year was the result of Jean-Baptiste coming out in the second half to make three tackles and pick off a pass that set up the deciding touchdown drive in a 34-27 decision. He earned a start the next week vs. Minnesota, finishing with nine tackles.
Playing for a secondary that ranked in the top 10 in the nation in pass efficiency defense and one that allowed only opponents to complete 47.1% of their passes, the lowest in the major college ranks, Jean-Baptiste saw action throughout the defensive backfield. He eventually earned five stating assignment during conference competition, lining up with the first unit for five games at boundary cornerback, finishing the 2012 campaign with 24 tackles, nine pass break-ups and two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
As a senior, Jean-Baptiste finally became a full-time starter, as the boundary cornerback received All-Big Ten Conference second-team honors. He recorded a career-high 41 tackles in 13 contests, making four of those stops behind the line of scrimmage, including his only career sack. He led the team with 12 pass break-ups and tied for the lead with four interceptions. His 16 passes defended were topped by just two other players in the conference for the 2013 season.
Attending the 2014 Senior Bowl, Jean-Baptiste put on an impressive show in front of the league's coaches and scouts. They were impressed that the tall defensive back had the athleticism needed to turn and run with receivers downfield. He was especially effective in press coverage and did not hesitate to get physical at the line of scrimmage and then ride the receiver through the route.
His next opportunity to impress teams came in late February at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Stepping up to the bar, the Husker performed a vertical jump of 41 1/2-inches, leading all cornerbacks and safeties at the event. In fact, among the 335 players in Indianapolis that jump ranked third in the group, as only linebacker Ryan Shazier of Ohio State and tailback Lache Seastrunk did better, both checking in with a 42-inch jump. His broad jump of 10'-3" was third-best for all defensive backs in attendance.
Jean-Baptiste seized one last opportunity to shine, putting on an impressive speed performance. When teams came to Lincoln, Nebraska on March 6th for the Huskers' Pro Day, the cornerback was timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash, coming in with a 1.55-second clocking in the 10-yard run. In the short shuttle, he ran 4.19 seconds, followed by a speedy 6.69 time in the three-cone drill.
Jean-Baptiste started 19 games at boundary cornerback for Nebraska, appearing in a total of 36 contests during his Huskers career…Recorded 74 tackles (50 solos) with a 3-yard sack and four stops for losses totaling 10 yards…Credited with 21 pass deflections and seven interceptions for 182 yards in returns, including two touchdowns…His 22 pass deflections rank eighth in school history.