football Edit

Notre Dame pulls OSU DE Javontae Jean-Baptiste out of transfer portal

Defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste recorded eight sacks in the last four seasons at Ohio State.
Defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste recorded eight sacks in the last four seasons at Ohio State. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Javontae Jean-Baptiste began the fifth season of his college football career playing against Notre Dame. The former Ohio State defensive end plans to play his sixth and final season for Notre Dame.

Jean-Baptiste, a 6-foot-5, 249-pound edge defender, announced Friday on Twitter his commitment to graduate transfer to Notre Dame. He totaled 19 tackles, four sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss in 2022 as a rotational defensive end behind starter Zach Harrison.

Notre Dame’s defensive line in 2023 needs reinforcements after losing consensus All-America defensive end Isaiah Foskey, starting defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola and starting defensive end Justin Ademilola to the NFL Draft. The Irish have openings in the starting line up at vyper end, Foskey’s position, and field end, Justin Ademilola’s position.



Jean-Baptiste, who graduated from Ohio State in May 2022 with a degree in human development and family sciences, could play either position depending on the greatest need. If senior-to-be Jordan Botelho continues his ascent at vyper and classmate Rylie Mills replaces Jayson Ademilola at defensive tackle, the need may be greater at field end with a depth chart that includes Nana Osafo-Mensah and Alexander Ehrensberger. Junior Tuihalamaka finished his freshman season working in the vyper role. Fellow freshmen Aiden Gobaira and Joshua Burnham had less defined roles while redshirting in 2022.

Though Jean-Baptiste's defensive snaps were limited to 250, Pro Football Focus gave him favorable grades last season. His 79.7 defense grade and 78.5 pass rush grade were both higher than any of Notre Dame’s regularly used defensive linemen in 2022, including Foskey (71.8 and 73.4, respectively). But Jean-Baptiste graded out lower than Ohio State’s starting defense ends, Harrison (85.2) and J.T. Tuimoloau (83.1), as a pass rusher.

Jean-Baptiste's grades were likely aided by some garbage-time opportunities. Two of his sacks came in the second half of a 77-21 blowout victory over Toledo. His playing time waned in the final three games of the season, with only 20 defensive snaps combined against Maryland, Michigan and Georgia.

Jean-Baptiste still managed to record two tackles on nine defensive snaps in the College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Georgia, including a shared sack of quarterback Stetson Bennett with Harrison. The third down-and-7 sack pushed Georgia back into a 52-yard field goal attempt, which was missed, on the next play.

Rivals has not yet given a transfer portal ranking for Jean-Baptiste.

Notre Dame should have some sense for the untapped potential in Jean-Baptiste from defensive line coach Al Washington’s time on Ohio State’s staff. Before joining the Irish in 2022, Washington spent the previous three seasons coaching linebackers for the Buckeyes.

Prior to Washington’s arrival at Ohio State, the Buckeyes recruited Jean-Baptiste as a four-star prospect out of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, the same school that sent quarterback Steve Angeli to Notre Dame in the 2021 class. Rivals ranked Jean-Baptiste as the No. 30 outside linebacker in the 2018 class.

Jean-Baptiste played in 14 games, including one start, as a redshirt freshman in 2019. But he was never able to fully shed his backup role. He started six games in his 47-game career and tallied 53 tackles, eight sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one pass breakup for the Buckeyes.

The commitment of Jean-Baptiste gives Notre Dame a program-record sixth transfer portal pickup of the offseason following South Florida kicker Spencer Shrader, Penn punter Ben Krimm, Virginia Tech wide receiver Kaleb Smith, Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman and Oklahoma safety/nickel Thomas Harper. Only Krimm was recruited as a preferred walk-on.

Notre Dame’s previous high of four additions happened twice: once prior to the 2020 season with cornerback Nick McCloud, wide receiver Ben Skowronek, safety Isaiah Pryor and running back Trevor Speights, and again prior to the 2022 season with safety Brandon Joseph, punter Jon Sot, kicker Blake Grupe and defensive tackle Chris Smith.

The Irish likely aren’t done making additions to the 2023 roster, though their best remaining options are unclear. Spring-semester classes begin Tuesday, and the final date for class changes comes one week later, which would likely be the latest Notre Dame could bring someone onboard for the semester.

The Irish could add commitments to join the team in June, which will come after another window for transfer portal entry declarations from May 1-15. The current portal window, which only limits entries and not exits, closes Wednesday.

Notre Dame hosted Utah State defensive end transfer Byron Vaughns for a visit last weekend, but he shared Thursday on Twitter that his recruitment remains open as he considers his best options. The Irish may no longer be a viable one.

Transfer portal resources

The Notre Dame Football Transfer Tracker details who's in and who's out from Notre Dame's roster since the start of the 2022 season.

Rivals has rankings for most of Notre Dame's incoming and outgoing transfers.

The Insider Lounge is tracking which portal prospects Notre Dame has offered.

The Rivals Transfer Tracker is the home for all the transfer portal movement nationally.

The 2023 Notre Dame Scholarship Chart breaks down the roster by position group and year of eligibility, and is being updated with each incoming or outgoing transaction.


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