Cleveland (OH) Benedictine linebacker Jerome Baker was originally planning on making his college decision closer to National Signing Day. That changed last week as he decided to move his decision date up to July 11.
Baker checks in as the country's No. 4 athlete, the state of Ohio's second-best player, and the 42nd-best player in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
He decided to move up his decision because he wanted to get it out of the way before his high school competes for a state title this fall.
"So much is happening, going into my senior year. We're contending for a State Championship and I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go," Baker explained. "I thought I might as well get it off my plate. That's the major reason why I decided to do it before my senior year. I did it in July because two-a-days start in August."
Currently he has a final eight of Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Tennessee.
"I'm probably going to bring it down to a top three or top four," he said. "A few have kind've fallen off the radar. It's definitely going to be from the top eight, but it's going to be narrowed down again."
Ohio State, Florida, and Tennessee are widely considered to be the favorites to land the standout linebacker. Baker shared his thoughts on each of the three schools with SBN Recruiting.
Ohio State: "It's the home school. It's pretty much a second home for me. When there I know the players and have friends who go there. I have great relationships with the coaches. There's so much that Ohio State has."
Florida: "When I went there I really enjoyed it. The whole school is great. It's laid back and overall fits who I am. The coaching and the players, really welcomed me. It was really crazy visiting and seeing that."
Tennessee: "When I went there the fans, players, and coaching staff stood out. Their facilities are also top-notch. Those are the major things I liked about them"
While he's pretty sure where he's going to be playing his college football, a few things will weigh heavily on his mind over the next week.
"Who disappears and who's the most nervous about where I'm going to go," he stated. "Also the interaction with the coaching staff will be important."
Over the recruiting process he has grown closest to Florida defensive coordinator DJ Durkin.
"I would have to say coach (DJ) Durkin from Florida," he continued. "With him being all the way down in Florida, we talk a lot about different things. That's probably the coach I've gotten to know the best."
When reflecting back on his recruitment, Baker says the most memorable moment was receiving his first scholarship offer, which came from Ohio State.
"I would probably say my first offer. That was a good moment in my life," he said. "It surprised me that the first one came from a school like Ohio State."
Baker is also very close to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer.
"We have a great relationship. I talk to him a lot, more than people would expect," Baker explained. "At one point I was talking to him every week and if I didn't talk to him, he reminds me on Twitter to give him a call. He's a great coach and a phenomenal recruiter."
After committing this coming week, Baker plans on taking on a recruiter role for the school he chooses.
"I want to make sure the team I go to has the best players," Baker said. "I'm definitely going to recruit myself. I want to play with the best and be a leader."
He's thinking about taking a few official visits this fall, but admits it's very unlikely he'll change his mind once committed.
"I'll probably take a couple of official visits, but I really don't know right now," Baker admitted. "Once I'm committed, it's going to be nearly impossible to get me to change my mind, but I might take a few official visits."