Ohio State continues to pursue a defensive end to bolster its 2018 recruiting class, with a new offer going out to Bergen Catholic (N.J.) 4-star prospect Javontae Jean-Baptiste on Tuesday.
When the Buckeyes missed out on Jayson Oweh to divisional rival Penn State, Jean-Baptiste became the logical next choice for an offer from Urban Meyer, Larry Johnson, Greg Schiano and company.
“I spoke with Coach Meyer earlier today, and then Javontae called him and I guess he extended the offer to him around noon today. I think [his interest in Ohio State] is very high,” Bergen Catholic head coach Nunzio Campanile told Land of 10 on Thursday afternoon. “I think he’s always been interested. It’s one of those dream landing spots for him. When you get an opportunity to play at a program like that, you’ve got to sit up and listen. So he’s very interested.”
Jean-Baptiste has been on Ohio State’s radar for nearly a year. The Buckeyes previously sent defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to Bergen Catholic in the spring to watch Jean-Baptiste work out, the start of a process that led to today’s offer. Urban Meyer and his coaching staff are not strangers to the Bergen Catholic coaching staff.
“Javontae is a great player with a great motor. He plays hard, and he’s got great upside,” Campanile said. “Coach Schiano got to meet him a while back and he was out to see him work out back in the spring. I think Schiano was impressed at the time, and he’s continued to develop as a player. … I think from a character and a performance standpoint, what I got from Coach Meyer is that he’s the kind of player you’d want in your program.”
Although Jean-Baptiste is rated by the 247Sports composite rankings as a 4-star outside linebacker, Ohio State sources indicate it’s likely he will find a home at defensive end if he chooses Ohio State. At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Jean-Baptiste has plenty of room to grow into his frame. Bergen Catholic primarily utilized him with his hand in the dirt, but Campanile could see his pupil being used in several different capacities.
“I would say he’s probably a hybrid of some sort, depending on how big he can get. But I think he can put a lot of weight on when he gets into a college program and gets to the training table and all that stuff,” Campanile said. “I think he’s got a chance to be whatever they want him to be. He’s athletic. He can play on his feet. He can put his hand down. He’s got great hands. He’s got great feet, and he’s very explosive. As he gets bigger and stronger, it’s really going to be about what they want to make him into.”
Jean-Baptiste is expected to take an official visit to Ohio State, his fourth official visit of the process, just 10 days after receiving his offer from the Buckeyes. The New Jersey native likely would visit sooner if not for a previously scheduled trip to another Big Ten program this weekend.
“I think his official visit to Ohio State would be [January 19] because he’s already set to go to Nebraska on Friday,” Campanile said. “I guess he has the opportunity to take two more after Nebraska, but I’m not sure if he’ll take them both. But per our conversation and my conversation with Coach Meyer afterward, they’re going to try to get Javontae up there the following weekend.”
The Buckeyes and Nebraska aren’t the only major programs in pursuit of the 4-star edge rusher. Jean-Baptiste took his first two official visits to Boston College and Virginia Tech on Dec. 8 and 15, respectively. Texas A&M, Pitt and Florida State also have expressed interest in Jean-Baptiste.
“He’s visiting Nebraska this weekend. Those guys were the first Power 5 school to offer him I think, and they’ve stayed with him the whole time,” Campanile said. “When the opportunity came to visit Nebraska, he’s going to go out there. Texas A&M reached out today, so I’m not sure what the status of that is. He’s had some conversations with Florida State. He’s a really talented kid, and I think any program would be lucky to get him. I think in a different era, when the process happened a little later, he would have offers from every school in the country.”