[This is the 19th in a series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the 2018 signing class and the impact they had this past season, as well as the impact they could have this coming season.]
Javontae Jean-Baptiste came to Ohio State from Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey. He was the No. 16 outside linebacker in the nation and the No. 219 player in the 2018 class overall. He was also ranked the No. 6 player in the state. Jean-Baptiste signed with Ohio State over offers from Boston College, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Pitt, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Coastal Carolina.
Javontae Jean-Baptiste was offered by Ohio State in January of 2018 after a sensational senior year where he recorded 88 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks as an outside linebacker. He was named NJ.com’s Defensive Player of the Year in the state of New Jersey for his efforts.
Here is what they had to say about him at the time.
“The NJ.com 2017 Defensive Player of the Year finished his senior season with 88 tackles, including 14.5 for a loss, and 11.5 sacks. Developing a knack for making the biggest plays in the biggest moments, it was the gamechanging ability that Jean-Baptiste displayed that helped Bergen Catholic win its final nine games, finish undefeated against New Jersey competition and win its first state title since 2004. In that final, Jean-Baptiste registered two sacks in a dominant 44-7 victory over St. Peter’s Prep.”
His size (6-5 215) and athleticism intrigued defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and his production in the clutch got Urban Meyer’s attention.
Coming into Ohio State as a 215-pound defensive end, however, meant that there was going to be a redshirt in Jean-Baptiste’s future. He did not see action during the season as he focused on learning the position and getting bigger and stronger.
So Now What
Ohio State returns every defensive end from last year, save for Nick Bosa, who they grew accustomed to being without.
The time for Javontae Jean-Baptiste might still be a year away simply because of the number of players ahead of him who have more experience. Classmates Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday and fifth-year senior Jashon Cornell are experienced backups for starters Jonathon Cooper and Chase Yong.
Larry Johnson said at the Rose Bowl that Jean-Baptiste could have played at the end of the year and that his best practices were the 15 during bowl prep. He loves his athleticism, but the focus right now is simply getting him strong enough to hold up against Big Ten offensive linemen.
He already has the athleticism, and will have had plenty of coaching by the time he gets to where he needs to be in the weight room.
The good news for Javontae Jean-Baptiste this year, however, is there is no longer a redshirt to protect, so he will see the field.
How much is the question.