Ohio State Football Notebook: ‘He takes criticism better than he used to’

Javontae Jean-Baptiste Ohio State Buckeyes

Don’t Believe the Hype

Justin Fields is the highest-ranked quarterback recruit at Ohio State since Terrelle Pryor in 2008. As such, he carries with him immense expectations.

To “make matters worse,” Dwayne Haskins had the greatest season for a quarterback in Ohio State history last year, which means if Fields falls short of Haskins in any area this season, there will be critics.

Still, in this Ryan Day offense, Fields should be just fine. In fact, he could be in line for a tremendous season, which is why Day will make sure that if things go really well, they’ll be working to make sure that Fields doesn’t start buying into the hype. Just as they did last year with Haskins.

“It’s really important. I think it’s important for the position coach, the coordinator and the head coach to understand that,” Day said. “I think that’s really important for the quarterback to understand week in and week out what his role is, week in and week out how the game is going to be different, week in and week out how the media is handling everything.

“One of the things we had to deal with last year, Dwayne went for 0 to 60 so fast and everything was positive and how do you now keep your expectations under control based on where he was at in his development? Two years ago after the Iowa game with JT [Barrett] and social media, it was a different situation. Counseling a quarterback, especially at that age, is critical week to week.”

The Spice of Life

Quarterbacks and receivers work all summer long by themselves. Throwing, catching, and building a rapport and chemistry.

Since this current crop of Ohio State quarterbacks and receivers have never really played together, the chemistry portion of the offseason was very important.

Still, it can’t just be one quarterback throwing all offseason or else the receivers would never get the work they needed — or wanted. Having multiple quarterbacks throwing may hinder the rapport-building portion of the offseason, but it doesn’t do anything to hinder the growth of the receivers themselves.

“I think it’s an advantage,” senior receiver KJ Hill said of working with different quarterbacks. “You get to get a feel for different things. Different quarterbacks like different things or have different arm strengths, got different types of spirals on the ball.

“I feel like it’s an advantage from a receiver’s standpoint, catching from all good quarterbacks. Because that’s how your game is going to improve. You may see a bad ball in a game, but it’s not anything you haven’t seen before because you’ve already practiced it and had reps at it.”

The Maturation of Javontae Jean-Baptiste

When Ohio State signed Javontae Jean-Baptiste last year out of New Jersey, he came to the Buckeyes as a play-making outside linebacker. With his 6-foot-5 and 215-pound frame, however, it was always clear he was going to play defensive end, but would need a year to bulk up to even be ready to compete.

That year has come and gone and Jean-Baptiste looks like a different person than he did when he arrived. He now looks the part of an Ohio State defensive end, but more importantly, he has grown as a man as well.

“He’s a great guy. I’m his big brother,” senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper said recently. “I have seen a lot of maturity from him and his growth into being a man. He takes criticism better than he used to. People would get on him before and he would shut down. Now he applies it to his game and gets better. He can be an amazing player. He just has to accept that.”

Being a big brother and having gone through difficult times himself, Cooper is always there to talk when the need arises.

“We’ve had those talks,” Cooper said. “We have gone to each other. He sees me as his big brother. He comes to me with problems he has. If I have something on my heart about him, I make sure to go and tell him.”

That ability to talk and be talked to is further proof that Jean-Baptiste is more ready than ever to be a contributor for the Buckeyes, and when camp opens on Friday, don’t be surprised if you hear his name more than you expected to.