Ohio State landed its second commitment of National Signing Day at noon Wednesday when 4-star New Jersey defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste chose the Buckeyes at a ceremony at his high school, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic.
Jean-Baptiste chose Ohio State over Nebraska, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Boston College, and a slew of other offers.
Jean-Baptiste’s decision came as somewhat of a surprise, as Nebraska had seemingly held the lead for the final three weeks of his recruitment heading into National Signing Day. The appeal of Ohio State’s program ultimately beat out the Huskers, including Ohio State’s ability to develop Jean-Baptiste as a future NFL prospect and offer him excellent opportunities on and off the football field during his time in Columbus.
The Buckeyes hosted Jean-Baptiste as an official visitor on Jan. 19; he also visited Boston College (Dec. 8), Virginia Tech (Dec. 15), Nebraska (Jan. 12), and Texas A&M (Feb. 2). Ohio State made multiple in-home visits with Jean-Baptiste, primarily led by assistants Larry Johnson and Greg Schiano. Urban Meyer joined Schiano for their final in-home visit with Jean-Baptiste last week.
The 247Sports composite rankings mark Jean-Baptiste as a 4-star prospect. He holds a 4-star ranking on all three of the major national evaluation services — 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN. He checks in as the No. 219 prospect in the country and the No. 6 prospect in New Jersey. He’s ranked as the No. 16 outside linebacker in the country, but Ohio State views the 6-foot-5, 215-pound prospect as a defensive end with potential to pack significant amounts of muscle mass onto his frame.
Jean-Baptiste is Ohio State’s 26th commitment or signee in the 2018 recruiting class, a group that is ranked among the best in the country. His commitment will push the Buckeyes from 316.41 points to 317.06 points, a narrow increase in point totals, but an important one with the back-and-forth battle between Ohio State and Georgia atop the 247Sports composite class rankings.
Ohio State now holds commitments from a whopping seven defensive linemen in the 2018 recruiting class. Five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent heads the group and is joined by standouts such as Tyreke Smith, Tommy Togiai, Tyler Friday, Antwuan Jackson Jr. and Alex Williams. Jean-Baptiste, Smith, Togiai, Friday, and Jackson are all ranked as 4-star prospects by the 247Sports composite.