“He was actually very excited and happy. He was the first person I called,” Jean-Baptiste said said of Heupel. “I spoke to Coach Bell after that and let him know that I had joined the family. Coach Bell congratulated me and said he was happy and proud of me and ready to work hard.”
He has been very pleased with his relationship with Coach Bell.
“It’s amazing. Coach Bell is like an older brother to me,” Jean-Baptiste said. “He’s always giving me advice … and we have a good bond.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Jean-Baptiste was one of two linebackers committing to UCF this week, as Rockledge’s Octavious Brothers (6-2, 210) pledged to the Knights on Tuesday, giving UCF nine commitments, including three linebackers to its 2019 recruiting class.
Miami Central’s Tatum Bethune (6-0, 215) is the other linebacker as UCF looks to bolster a group that will need some depth after this season, since the Knights will lose Pat Jasinski and Gabe Luyanda. Bethune and Brothers will both play outside linebackers, while Jean-Baptiste will play inside.
Jean-Baptiste said UCF is his dream school and he has been a big fan of the Knights ever since his parents first took him on a tour of the campus while the family was on a summer vacation to the Orlando area when he was nine years old.
“Ever since I was a little kid, when I first visited UCF, I was like, ‘Wow, UCF is my dream school. I want to come here,’ ” he said. “We were actually on a vacation and my dad said we were going to drive around the school and I was like, ‘Wow, everything is amazing.’ Everything was nice.”
So it was extra special for Jean-Baptiste last year to watch the Knights go through their unbeaten 13-0 season.
“It was phenomenal. It was great,” Jean-Baptiste said. “Coach Frost did a great job last year turning everything around … that was really big for them last year.”
He said he loves the new coaching staff.