The rush: Malik Hartford enjoys Ohio State’s ‘family atmosphere’, Buckeyes offer No. 1 overall prospect in 2025, Brandon Inniss and Mark Fletcher excel on national TV

Ohio State Safety Officer Malik Hartford is off to a strong start to his senior season.

The four-star prospect helped lead Lakota West to a 2-0 record at the start of the 2022 season, most recently dominating rival Lakota East in a 49-6 win on Friday.

Hartford made his presence felt early by delivering a devastating blow on his team’s first kickoff of the night, stopping the returner in his tracks and setting up a long field for Lakota East.

“We just came out and knew it was a rivalry game, and we wanted to set the tone,” Hartford said. Eleven Warriors after Friday’s game. “That’s what we did, and we continued to thrive throughout the game.”

Hartford played both ways for the Firebirds and had several early catches at wide receiver. However, he didn’t see many plays coming up defensively, as Lakota East is a hot team.

Hartford was competing with another Ohio State draftee, Lakota East offensive lineman Austin Sierveld. But the couple put their friendship on hold for just one week.

“I personally had to protect him this week,” Hartford said of not conversing with Sierveld for the entire week leading up to the game. “We weren’t friends anymore. We were playing football. But of course we are happy with each other and tell each other to improve every day.

You’ve heard about the Buckeye vs. Buckeye violence in the NFL before, but Friday also humorously presented an opportunity for future Buckeye vs. future Buckeye action after things got messy with Sierveld and Hartford later in the contest. After a play was over, Hartford continued to follow up on an attempt to strip the ball from the Lakota East running back, which Sierveld opposed. Using his pure instinct to defend his teammate, Sierveld shoved Hartford off his running back, prompting a personal foul from an official.

“I was on top of the pile at the end. I was trying to get the ball out,” Hartford said. “I guess he kind of felt a way about it. He was trying to help his teammate It’s okay. It’s getting chippy. It’s football. I said, ‘Come on Austin, don’t do that.’ And he said the same shit to me. But we calmed down after the game. We’re all fine.

In addition to drawing the amusing personal foul of a future teammate, Hartford had a fairly calm second game of the season defensively in their side’s win, with the result lopsided from the get-go. The same can’t be said for their first game of the season, in which Lakota East held on to beat St. Xavier 16-13. Hartford became a brief internet sensation after delivering a hard blow to a wide receiver in the middle that drew numerous flags from officials, even though he was leading with his shoulder.

“It was late in the game. The quarterback was looking one way, so I veered one way,” Hartford said of the play. the ball. I came in and made a big shot, and the receiver made a nice catch. The refs made a dodgy call, but that’s what it is. We won, so we will play game by game.

Since his commitment to Ohio State in April, Hartford said he has communicated frequently with the team’s coaching staff. This was especially true after his hit made the rounds online, as several Buckeye coaches wanted the 6-foot-3, 175-pound safety’s opinion on the play.

“Coach Day texted me about the hit. All the coaches texted me about the hit,” Hartford said. “We just continue to maintain our close relationship. like in Ohio State. It’s a family atmosphere. Some of the coaches asked me questions (about the game), but most of them thought it was pretty clean. They told me in college, you get a review. So they would have knocked it down.

Hartford will be one of several rookies appearing in Ohio State’s season opener against Notre Dame on Saturday. He said he lent his services to help his peers recruit Ohio State’s remaining targets in the Class of 2023, primarily five-star defensive end Keon Keeley, who is expected to make an official visit to Columbus this weekend. end.

“I try to recruit, but when it comes in the season, it’s a bit difficult,” Hartford said. “I talk to a few players here and there.”

Hartford is looking forward to enjoying what will likely be one of the best atmospheres at Ohio Stadium this season.

“I already know it’s going to be crazy,” Hartford said. “I think LeBron is going to be there, a few other celebrities will be there, so I’m just excited and ready to go. The Silver Bullets, I can’t wait for them to fly. They have a great plan that will allow them to thrive, and I can’t wait to see the guys fly and make big plays.

OSU offers Sanders Jr.

Ohio State offered the top-ranked prospect in the 2025 recruiting class on Sunday. North Carolina offensive tackle David Sanders Jr. received his OSU offer from offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and coach of offensive line Justin Frye after speaking with the pair over the weekend.

Just briefly underway in his sophomore year, Sanders Jr. is already 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds. As you might expect from his No. 1 ranking in 247Sports top 100 for 2025, he has had no shortage of offers, racking up 23 Division I offers. His offer list includes schools such as Georgia, Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, NC State, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia.

Inniss and Fletcher shine for American Heritage

2023 Ohio State commits Brandon Inniss and Mark Fletcher were in the national spotlight this weekend in Game 2 of their senior seasons.

Playing in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 on Saturday, Inniss and Fletcher each helped American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to a 56-27 win over Los Alamitos to improve to 2-0 on the season. Inniss, coming off an opening week where he had over 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns, had a touchdown late in the first quarter in the right corner of the end zone and then immediately gave an OH signal. after scoring.

Fletcher had a monster afternoon, going for 224 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns.

Inniss and Fletcher are expected to be in attendance for Ohio State’s season opener against Notre Dame on Saturday.

Umeozulu commits to South Carolina

As expected, four-star defensive end Desmond Umeozulu didn’t pick Ohio State when he signed on Monday.

The 2023 pass thrower has chosen South Carolina instead, as Ohio State aims to try and land a trio of top-ranked defensive wings in Keeley, Damon Wilson and Matayo Uiagalelei.

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