One day after the South Florida Express contingent completed its visit to Ohio State during the first weekend of April, four-star 2023 Ohio State safety commit Cedrick Hawkins issued a bold prediction.
“My teammates are great guys, I don’t really have to say anything to them, they know what’s the best move for them and Ohio State is that,” Hawkins said. “Don’t be surprised if you see one or all of them commit in a couple of weeks.”
Nine days after Hawkins made that prediction to Eleven Warriors, his prophecy started to come true when four-star 2023 running back Mark Fletcher committed to Ohio State.
Columbus awaits @OhioStateFB @SouthFLExpress . pic.twitter.com/A74hKvGl3w— MarkFletcherjr (@fletcherjr_mark) April 12, 2022
It remains to be seen how many of his 7-on-7 teammates will follow suit.
At the very least, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound running back will be bringing both his gold grill and his bruising style of play to Columbus next year. Fletcher picked OSU from a final four of Miami, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State.
"That's the first place that I've visited where I didn't feel homesick," Fletcher told CBS Sports during his commitment. "I felt real comfortable. I got what they called that feeling."
The Fletcher File
- Class: 2023
- Size: 6-foot-1/225 lbs
- Pos: RB
- School: American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
- Composite Ranking: ★★★★
- Composite Rating: #153 (#8 RB)
Fletcher’s Ohio State recruitment was a quick one, as he commits less than three months after receiving an offer from the Buckeyes on Jan. 21. His relationship with Tony Alford and the rest of the OSU coaching staff grew tremendously from there, especially on his April 1-3 visit to Columbus. That visit changed everything in Fletcher’s recruitment, making him comfortable enough with Ohio State to end his recruitment just more than a week later.
"Shoutout to coach Tony Alford," Fletcher said. "He played a big part in getting me to OSU. All I hear is great things about him, and I can't wait to play for him."
"That's just the first place I visited where I didn't feel homesick."— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) April 12, 2022
4 RB Mark Fletcher commits to OHIO STATE.@fletcherjr_mark | @OhioStateFB pic.twitter.com/Vxi9MafXaq
Fletcher is ranked as the 153rd-best player and the eighth-best running back in the 2023 class, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. In eight games for American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) last season, Fletcher had 779 rushing yards on 110 carries with 13 touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 171 receiving yards.
He is the high school and 7-on-7 teammate of fellow Ohio State target and five-star 2023 wideout Brandon Inniss. Now that Fletcher and Hawkins are both in OSU’s 2023 class, that certainly doesn’t hurt OSU's chances of landing Inniss, too.
With Fletcher’s commitment, Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class now has seven commits this cycle, and has moved from No. 8 to No. 6 in the national rankings.
Fletcher is the first running back to join the class, in which Ohio State would like to take two tailbacks.
|OT||LUKE MONTGOMERY||★★★★||#43 NATL | #4 OT||6-5 | 270||Findlay (Findlay, OH)|
|TE||TY LOCKWOOD||★★★★||#101 NATL | #8 TE||6-5 | 225||Independence (Thompson's Station, TN)|
|IOL||JOSHUA PADILLA||★★★★||#136 NATL | #6 IOL||6-4 | 265||Wayne (Dayton, OH)|
|RB||MARK FLETCHER||★★★★||#153 NATL | #8 RB||6-1 | 225||American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, FL)|
|S||MALIK HARTFORD||★★★★||#205 NATL | #20 S||6-2.5 | 175||Lakota West (West Chester, OH)|
|S||CEDRICK HAWKINS||★★★★||#235 NATL | #23 S||6-0 | 175||Cocoa (Cocoa, FL)|
|DL||WILL SMITH||★★★||#443 NATL | #56 DL||6-3 | 260||Dublin Coffman (Dublin, OH)|
|Prospect Rating Data: 247Sports|
The Florida standout has 23 total Division I offers and picked the Buckeyes over the likes of Alabama, USC, Michigan, Penn State, Miami, Florida State, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina, Auburn, Arkansas and Arizona.