The need was definitely there.
With the quarterback, wide receiver, running back and tight end position groups essentially locked up for the class of 2022, offensive line became the lone offensive need to fill for Ohio State. More specifically, OSU really needed to land a true tackle, as some of its other top linemen targets may be best suited to play on the interior when they reach the next level.
The Buckeyes took a major step of addressing that Friday with the verbal commitment of four-star offensive tackle George Fitzpatrick. A 6-foot-6, 285-pound standout for Cherry Creek High School (Greenwood Village, Colorado), Fitzpatrick comes from a winning culture, and could be a stalwart in the trenches down the road.
On the Field
Fitzpatrick hasn't suffered a loss since his freshman year of high school. Cherry Creek completed a perfect 9-0 pandemic-shortened season with its second straight state championship in 2020 and went 14-0 en route to the first championship Fitzpatrick was a part of in 2019. In his three years playing high school ball, Cherry Creek has gone a combined 35-2. He’ll have the chance to end his senior season with a three-peat before arriving in Columbus. Considering the expectation at Ohio State is to win and win immediately, Fitzpatrick should fit right in with the winning culture.
Looking at his highlights from his junior season, Fitzpatrick lined up mostly at right tackle. He boasts an athletic frame, and paved the way for the Bruins to average close to 192 rushing yards per game during his junior year.
Fitzpatrick has an immediate burst off the line and seems to adjust quickly to blocking downfield for screen plays. In the running game, he made life difficult defensive linemen, taking ends away from the halfback and creating sizable running lanes. He has a high motor and plays to the whistle on almost every play.
When he arrives, he may have to sit behind the likes of Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones, Ben Christman or another player already on the roster, but it's easy to see Fitzpatrick one day starting at tackle for the Buckeyes.
In the Class
Fitzpatrick becomes the second offensive lineman in Ohio State’s 2022 recruiting class, joining four-star prospect Tegra Tshabola. Tshabola, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound Lakota West product, is ranked the 19th-best offensive tackle prospect per 247Sports’ composite rankings, though he may end up along the interior part of the line. Fitzpatrick comes in at 27th-best nationally.
Fitzpatrick is the second Colorado player to commit to the Buckeyes in two years, joining 2021 signee Sam Hart. He's the third offensive lineman from Colorado to give his verbal to the Buckeyes in the past decade, joining 2012 signee Joey O’Connor and 2017 pledge Jake Moretti. Moretti suffered a serious knee injury at an Ohio State camp and ultimately signed with Colorado before being forced to medically retire from the sport.
The addition continues to bolster a 2022 recruiting class that was already rated No. 1 nationally by 247Sports. Fitzpatrick becomes the 13th player out of 17 total commits in the class who are ranked in the top 300 nationally.
With Fitzpatrick in the fold, that probably leaves two offensive line spots up for grabs in the class. OSU’s top remaining targets include Earnest Greene, Kam Dewberry, Addison Nichols and Aamil Wagner.
Fitzpatrick and Wagner both profile as true tackles. Dewberry, Greene and Nichols are a bit trickier to project; they could end up playing tackle, or be asked to be slotted in at guard.
However, Wagner could be an odd man out. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Dayton native visited campus on June 6 and his weight is likely the biggest concern about his potential as an offensive line prospect. He seems to have the build of a defensive end, rather than someone in the offensive trenches, whereas Fitzpatrick does not have that problem at 285 pounds. But there’s still a chance Wagner could land with the Buckeyes.
Ohio State beat out the likes of Michigan, Oregon, Oklahoma and Florida for Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick told 247Sports after his sophomore year he grew up watching a ton of Pac-12 football, emphasizing the success the Ducks have had, but Ohio State was able to beat out Oregon and the rest of the Pac-12 to land another prospect from out west.