While the recruiting crop in the state of Ohio is a little down in the 2015 class, there are still a couple of players who could be stars at the next level.
Cleveland (Ohio) Benedictine athlete Jerome Baker might just be the best player in the state this year. Baker checks in as the country's No. 4 athlete, the state of Ohio's second-best player, and the 41st-best player in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
Baker is being recruited by many of the nation's top programs and plans on visiting at least two of those schools over the summer.
"It's been pretty good," he said. "I just scheduled a visit for Notre Dame on June 20. That will be my next trip. I will also be at the Ohio State 'Friday Night Lights' camp."
Top prospects often decide to sit out summer camps because they have already earned all of the offers they want by the time camps begin. That won't be the case with the Cleveland Benedictine star.
"I'm going to participate. I like to participate and have fun. I also like to see where I'm at with other guys," Baker explained. "It's kind of unfair if I just go and not do anything. I definitely want to compete with others and have a good time."
Baker shared his thoughts with SB Nation Recruiting on a couple of the schools recruiting him:
Notre Dame: "They just recently offered me. I want to see what's different about Notre Dame. I always hear about the academic prestige and their rich tradition and I want to see that for myself. I talk to them pretty much every week. (Despite offering late), they're still on an even playing field with the others. It's a prestigious school who just played in the national championship [game]."
Ohio State: "I'm excited to hang out with the players (when I go back to Ohio State). I just want to have fun and enjoy being at Ohio State. I've had a lot of contact with them. I talk to Coach (Urban) Meyer, Coach (Luke) Fickell, Coach (Stan) Drayton, and Coach (Mark) Pantoni almost every week. I can really just say every other day because I talk to so many different coaches so much."
Florida State: "I was talking to my dad about taking another trip down south where I could visit Florida State, Miami and Florida again. I have a lot of interest in Florida State, they just won the national championship, so they're already up there. I really want to see the place."
Florida and Tennessee: "It's a great chance to leave and create my own path, but at the same time I like being close to home. When I went there it was something that captured me and I really enjoyed it. I really liked the players and felt nothing but love on those visits."
At the beginning of his recruitment Baker had Ohio State as his leader, but he now has two schools tied at the top with the Buckeyes, with two other schools not too far behind.
"If I had to say it would definitely be Florida, Ohio State and Tennessee," he said. "Those three are at the top, but others are right behind them. Notre Dame is up there and Florida State is definitely close by. That would probably round out my top five."
Baker maintained that he will make his college decision in the upcoming fall or winter, but said the thought of deciding earlier has crossed his mind and he won't rule it out.
"I have. I thought maybe one day I would visit a school and tell myself, 'I love it. I want to commit here.' It has definitely crossed my mind," Baker said. "I just want to pick the right school. I don't care if it's early or late. I just want to pick the right school."
Baker can play either running back or linebacker at the college level, though programs appear to have a preference already.
"Most schools are looking at me for linebacker," he said. "A lot of the schools are telling me I would fit in at WILL linebacker because of my speed and ability to make plays in open space."
When he goes out on his college visits, Baker most looks forward to getting to know the players.
"I just want to talk to the players to see if they love it there or wish they went somewhere else," Baker said. "When I'm on visits the big thing I look for is if I would want to play with the guys on the team."
Baker is working to improve many aspects of his game this offseason, though a few stand out above the rest.
"I'm really trying to get heavier," Baker said. "When I went to the Rivals Five-Star challenge I was able to tell I'm a little on the smaller side. I'm not too small, but I would like to get bigger. I'm also working on my first step."
Baker says Ohio State, Florida and Tennessee are locks to land officials visits with him (if he does end up taking officials) and that the other two visits will be decided at a later time.