Mark Fitzpatrick couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear Friday.
“It was a great day, for sure,” the elder Fitzpatrick told Eleven Warriors shortly after his son’s announcement.
Mark said the pair did a self-guided tour in February before the recruiting dead period was officially lifted in June, leading George to fall in love with the campus. Both of them returned to Columbus for an official visit on June 4. They did their due diligence and continued to visit more campuses through the end of the month, but Ohio State stayed at the forefront in George’s mind.
“I don’t think he could have made a better choice,” Mark said. “Ohio State is a great destination. He picked the right place, he’ll have a chance to compete for a national championship and have a role on a successful team.”
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound tackle became the second offensive lineman to give a verbal commitment for the 2022 class, joining four-star product Tegra Tshabola. Living in Englewood, Colorado, the Fitzpatricks resided in Pac-12 country, which is the conference George grew up watching. Nevertheless, the opportunities Ohio State offered overcame the allure of staying close to home and playing for the likes of Oregon or other West Coast schools. He quickly developed a close relationship with OSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and running backs coach Tony Alford.
“The coaches, the continuity and the winning tradition,” Fitzpatrick said of why his son chose to play for the Buckeyes. “They have everything he wants.”
OSU makes Kanu's top schools
A key Ohio State target at a position of great need in the class of 2022 has narrowed down his list to top schools, with the Buckeyes still firmly in consideration.
Hero Kanu, a four-star defensive lineman that doubles as a physical specimen at 6-foot-5, 293 pounds, is the No. 82 rated player nationally according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. Kanu plans to make an official visit to Ohio State this fall and is likely to announce a commitment at the All-American Bowl on Jan. 8.
The 13th-best defensive line prospect in the country, Kanu camped at Ohio State on June 8 as part of the Premier Players International’s DreamChasers Tour. OSU has yet to land a verbal commitment from any defensive line prospect for 2022.
“I’m pretty sure there’s a video of me, my mouth drops,” Kanu said in June reflecting on when he received his OSU offer. “Top-three team here. It’s different. For us Europeans, we don’t really know these schools like Americans do, and now that you get into football, into the academics, you’re like, ‘That might be a good opportunity.’”
Kanu plays at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in California but his family still lives in Germany. In six games in his 2020 pandemic-shortened junior season, Kanu registered nine tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Kanu is also the highest-rated prospect that PPI – a program designed to help international football players land opportunities to play in America – has ever had.
“I’m thankful for every single day that I spend with them,” Kanu said. “Without (PPI), I wouldn’t be here.”
Branch announces top 5
Ohio State target and four-star safety Zion Branch also narrowed down his recruitment this weekend.
Though he does not expect to announce a commitment until the Under Armour All-America Game in January, the 49th overall prospect and No. 4 safety in the recruiting class of 2022 narrowed his list down to five schools on Saturday.
In addition to the Buckeyes, the Las Vegas native is considering Alabama, Clemson, USC and Oklahoma. Branch made an official visit to Ohio State during the first weekend of June, then visited Oklahoma and USC later in the month.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound free safety recorded 29 total tackles and five interceptions in his sophomore season at Bishop Gorman High School. His junior year was cut short after Bishop Gorman played only two games last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pair of TEs consider OSU
Two 2023 four-star tight ends dropped top-seven lists Saturday night, both of which included Ohio State.
The first is Mac Markway, who played with Ohio State freshman cornerback Jakailin Johnson at St. Louis’ De Smet High School. Markway, the 93rd-best prospect nationally and the fourth-best tight end in 2023 according to 247Sports' composite rankings, took an unofficial visit to OSU on June 22.
Top 7, my recruitment is still open, but I'm focusing on these 7 schools. I appreciate all of the schools that are recruiting me @CoachReed314 @SWiltfong247 @adamgorney @DemetricDWarren @JoshHelmholdt @JPRockMO @GSV_STL pic.twitter.com/UDb71knU9i— Mac Markway (@mac_markway) July 10, 2021
Mega Barnwell, who decommitted from Penn State in January, was the other tight end to include the Buckeyes on his list Saturday. Barnwell is the 184th-best prospect nationally and the 12th-best tight end in the class. He picked up an Ohio State offer after making an unofficial visit to campus on June 18.
“The offer meant a lot because Ohio State is a dream school of mine,” Barnwell said after getting the news. “When I received the offer, I almost even shed a tear, it was an amazing moment.”
Barnwell told Eleven Warriors in June he plans to return to Columbus for a game this fall.
Ohio State does not yet have any commitments for the class of 2023, though several priority targets have emerged.