Ohio State has lost its lone running back commitment in the 2023 class.
Four-star Florida running back Mark Fletcher decommitted from Ohio State Wednesday evening, as the 6-foot-1, 225-pound bruising back has been flirting with other schools such as Florida and Miami. He becomes the third player to decommit from OSU this cycle, joining cornerback Dijon Johnson and tight end Ty Lockwood.
Fletcher committed to OSU on April 16, and as other South Florida Express players continued to slot into the 2023 class such as Brandon Inniss, Carnell Tate and Cedrick Hawkins, it certainly appeared the Buckeyes were well on their way to building a mini-recruiting pipeline from Florida. But the allure of potentially staying close to home was too good to pass up for Fletcher, and there have been reports claiming the Florida prospect may be incentivized by potential NIL deals.
With Fletcher's decommitment, Ohio State is now down to 20 commitments in its 2023 recruiting class. After Fletcher committed to OSU in the spring, the Buckeyes were content just taking one running back in the 2023 cycle. With his sudden departure, the Buckeyes now have several options.
It's not as if Ohio State is unprepared for this situation, as it had already been reaching out to various running backs about potentially visiting OSU on Nov. 26, as 247Sports reported this week that five-star running back Rueben Owens had been contacted by Ohio State. Five-star Alabama commit Justice Haynes is another prospect the Buckeyes have long had interest in, though flipping him seems to be a tough ask even with five-star running back Richard Young in the Crimson Tide's 2023 recruiting class.
If OSU can flip Owens, Haynes or land a running back similar to their caliber, the Buckeyes may be content to continue to roll with a single running back for the current cycle.
There's a local option to consider as well. Three-star Ohio running back Trey Cornist had a standout senior season for Winton Woods, rushing for 1,629 yards on 181 carries with 27 touchdowns and has visited OSU multiple times this season. Cornist has picked up a flurry of offers in recent weeks, including Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas State, Purdue and Toledo.
Ohio State fans don't need any reminders about the last underrated running back from Winton Woods to get a chance with the Buckeyes, as Miyan Williams has made the most of his opportunities the past two seasons. Cornist's high school teammate and OSU commit Jermaine Mathews is certainly advocating for it.
College Teammates ? pic.twitter.com/fWv8nRyBoa— Jermaine Mathews Jr (@Jr2Maine) November 17, 2022
If OSU makes an offer to Cornist, the Buckeyes could also take another running back of a similar pedigree, such as three-star Georgia running back Jamarion Wilcox, who Tony Alford has been recruiting for quite some time. Taking two running backs in 2023 may also make recruiting an elite running back in 2024, such as Jerrick Gibson, Stacy Gage or Jordan Marshall, an easier sell if it means signing only one running back instead of two in that class.
As Fletcher is no longer in the fold, Ohio State will now have to go back to the drawing board to complete its 2023 class.