FootballRecruiting

The Fletcher Impact

Ohio State’s run of commitments continued on Tuesday evening with another big four-star pick up. This one came via the Sunshine State as Top 250 running back Mark Fletcher out of Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage chose the Buckeyes over Miami, Michigan, and Penn State to become commitment No. 7 in Ohio State’s fast-rising 2023 recruiting class.

What Ohio State is getting

When you think of South Florida skill, you think of electric receivers or shifty, homerun hitting running backs. Fletcher is almost more of what you’d expect to come out of the state of Ohio as a big, powerful runner with excellent feet and vision.

At 6-foot-1 and 225-pounds, Fletcher is a bell cow type of back more in the mold of Carlos Hyde. But Fletcher does have some finesse to his game. He’s an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield and routinely shows off that side of his game in the spring and summer on the 7-on-7 circuit.

He also possesses tremendous vision and anticipatory skills and, while probably not a sub 4.5 guy, is really light on his feet for his size which enables him to make that quick initial cut and change of direction to then those 225 pounds moving north and south.

Backs of Fletcher’s height can sometimes have issues with pad level, but Fletcher does a good job of maintaining a low pad level and doing so without too much forward lean. Playing against top competition in South Florida week in and week out should also prepare him well for the speed and physicality he’ll see at the next level.

Again, Fletcher is probably most like Carlos Hyde in terms of recent Ohio State running backs, a big powerful back with good feet and burst who is at his best carrying the ball 15-20 times per game. While Ohio State has become a bit more pass happy under Ryan Day, it is still a power spread at its core and Fletcher is a perfect fit at running back.

What it means for recruiting

Running back is definitely one of the high priority positions for this 2023 class and it’s always good to have an elite recruiter like Tony Alford on the case when the need is there to land a big-time player or two.

Make no mistake, the Buckeyes are taking two running backs in this class. That has been relayed to all targets and the days of that possibly being an issue for top players is over as two-back systems are pretty much the norm across all of college football and the NFL at this point.

Alford and the Buckeyes are hoping it will be a Sunshine State duo at running back this cycle. The two top remaining targets are both fellow Floridians in Lehigh star Richard Young and Orlando Edgewater standout C.J. Baxter. Young and Baxter are two of the nation’s elite prospects and landing either one of them to pair with Fletcher would likely give the Buckeyes the top running back class in the nation.

Both Young and Baxter will be national battles with Ohio State and Alabama seemingly out in front for Young right now while the Buckeyes battle Florida, Miami, USC, and many others for Baxter.

Fletcher’s commitment not only gets the ball rolling on the important task of landing two running backs, but it also could start an avalanche within the South Florida Express 7on7 program. Ohio State is recruiting more than a half dozen prospects from SFE, including talents like Brandon Inniss, Carnell Tate, and Cormani McClain.

While all of these prospects have different lists, Ohio State is one constant at or near the top for the group and Fletcher’s commitment should only enhance the comfort and relationships factor for the Buckeyes in those major recruiting battles.