Welcome back to another edition of my Class-In-Review, this time going through all of the commitments in the Buckeyes’ 2023 class and finding out all the qualities and potential that led to their offer and choice to become a member of the 2023 recruiting class at Ohio State.
Today, I will be taking a look at the Buckeyes’ current lone running back commitment Mark Fletcher — a player I believe is still very underrated by recruiting services, but still has plenty of time to prove to the recruiting websites he is a top-10 back.
Fletcher is currently playing for American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. If that high school sounds familiar, its because there are quite a few prospects that Ohio State is recruiting and hoping to land from the powerhouse Florida school.
Some of these players include Brandon Inniss and Daemon Fagan, who play wide receiver and safety, respectively. Inniss is the No. 1 wide receiver in the country per the 247Sports Composite, and is high school teammates with Fletcher as well as 7v7 teammates on South Florida Express, a squad that also includes Ohio State star 2024 QB commit Dylan Raiola. If the Buckeyes can keep a South Florida Express pipeline going and pull in Inniss as well, then this may be the start to some key inroads in the talent rich Florida football scene.
One of my favorite clips in Fletcher’s tape is the first one in the package above. You can see as soon as he breaks through the hole into the open field he immediately opens up his stride and kicks in that next gear. His first contact with a defender is then met with a dirty spin move while maintaining his center of balance and throwing up a nasty stiff arm right after. This run was poetry in motion my friends, and Fletcher just won the Pulitzer Prize with it. He eventually gets taken down, but right off the bat here that run is a cause for a ton of optimism.
Fletcher is, in a brief description, a bully with the football. I absolutely love the running style he displays on film, and have felt it is something the Buckeyes have been missing for a while until Miyan Williams showed me some spark this season. Williams and Fletcher both have that mentality that nobody is strong enough to bring them down. Violent running is what I am talking about, and Fletcher is one of the most violent runners in the class of 2023.
Where some runners may try and jump cut or make the defender miss in the hole, it almost feels as if it’s personal to Fletcher that he simply remove them by force out of his way. Its that ‘you are in my way and this freight train isn’t stopping’ mentality. That mindset that I imagine also went through great runningbacks minds such as Earl Campbell or a Christian Okoye. He is tipping the scales at about 225 lbs per his 247Sports page, and with collegiate weight training, it is inevitable that he only gains quickness and burst without sacrificing too much weight or muscle mass.
Now, of course, this isn’t the only thing that happens, as he also very much has the ability to make a defender miss in a phone booth. The head fakes and footwork in the A gap and B gaps are something you wouldn’t expect to see out of somebody who is known for brutalizing the opponent. He is very light on his feet for his size, and has no loss in horizontal elusiveness from his size whatsoever. The burst going from running over a defender to being back to his second and third gear is what really impresses me most.
His frame and power allow for something that is a bit under-appreciated within the college football ranks — pass blocking acumen. He excels in pass protection and getting chips on defenders before going to the flat for a check down or otherwise. Ezekiel Elliot was one of the best pass blocking backs the Buckeyes have had in recent history, and Fletcher is looking to continue that tradition as well.
Coach Tony Alford has earned my trust in his running back evaluations, and after looking over Fletcher’s film, I'm not only sold but incredibly excited to see his time begin in Columbus.