Rico Flores Jr. feeling prioritized by Ohio State coaches, may consider playing in Buckeyes offense

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Ohio State will welcome a plethora of talented wide receivers from the Class of 2023 on visits this spring.

Expected visitors include Bryson Rodgers, Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate, to name a few. California four-star player Rico Flores Jr. will be among the expected visitors to OSU this spring, though he’s not sure exactly when his visit will be until now. Flores Jr. is nearing the final stages of his recruiting, as he recently released a top five consisting of Ohio State, UCLA, Notre Dame, Georgia and Texas. He said Eleven Warriors he plans to end his engagement by the end of the summer.

While Flores Jr. still has several trips to different schools on his record, Ohio State is certainly a viable option for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide ranked the 179th best player in the class of 2023 and the 25th best wide receiver according to 247Sports composite ranking. OSU wide receiver coach Brian Hartline and Flores Jr. talk several times a week, which he says makes him feel like a priority for the Buckeyes.

“To have such a feeling, it’s pretty awesome,” said Flores Jr. “It’s definitely going to help me in my decision, that’s for sure.

“They just produce receivers. I just see what Hartline is doing with receivers and how successful they are. And then on top of that, the relationships I build with them are great. Everyone is texting me from Coach Ryan Day to Coach Hartline, just everyone on the offensive side. I feel like that plays a big role.

While Flores Jr. has only recently been on OSU’s radar, getting offered in late November, he’s started for Folsom High School (Folsom, Calif.) since he was a sophomore. Most great rookies usually have a moment, whether it’s a practice or a game, that really shows why they’re going to play high-level college football. Well, Flores Jr. has arrived early in his prep career.

Folsom High School head coach Paul Doherty knew Flores Jr. was going to be special after the first high school game he had ever played, dating back to the 2019 California spring season. Folsom was playing against California powerhouse Oak Ridge, a team that was senior-laden, while Doherty was to start 10 sophomores, including Flores Jr.

Trailing by a late possession, Folsom was backed up to his own 10-yard line and was in desperate need of a spark. Doherty called for a deep shot at Flores Jr., who ran a tee route and was draped in double coverage he had grown too used to with a safety and cornerback hanging over his arm and his back. With his left hand, Rico Flores Jr. made a one-handed grab 50 yards over the Oak Ridge sideline. Doherty calls it the best take he’s ever seen at Folsom High School. Flores Jr. still remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I had a starting route and the defense lined up in a unique safety look,” said Flores Jr. “He was playing more midfield and I was borderline and I had a route of departure. So I’m getting off the line, and watch out, he’s playing, so I run, run, run and I caught him. The ball was in the air and I was just focused on the ball. It was the craziest take. I don’t even know how to explain how I caught it. I guess I focused so much on the ball.

Three plays later, Flores Jr. scored the game-winning touchdown on a post route. It was the start of what would become a prolific high school career and bring him the attention of colleges nationwide. During his junior season, Flores Jr. caught 64 passes for 932 yards and 11 touchdowns in 13 games for Folsom High School.

“He had a ton of success offensively for us,” Doherty said. “He’s a big physical receiver. He has great ball skills and hand-eye coordination. He’s super physical for a big kid. He comes with everything, every ball in one-on-one and midfield and perimeter clashes. He’s a guy we target frequently and he’s been giving consistent production.

“He’s had a lot of double coverage, because he plays in the border for us. There’s no question the No. 1 receiver for it to be a linebacker walked on him, a corner on him and a safety on top. ”

Special plays like these are what Flores Jr. thinks he can bring to the Buckeyes, and that’s why Ohio State is pursuing the California resident so persistently. Where he can make the games from varies, as Flores Jr. says he’s comfortable playing slot machine receiver or lining up outside at the college level and thinks he has the versatility to thrive in both.

Additionally, Flores Jr. is a high school teammate with Ohio State target 2023 four-star tight end Walker Lyons, who placed the Buckeyes in its top six in February. Could Lyons and Flores Jr. possibly adapt to Scarlet and Gray together one day? It is possible, but each prospect will make the decision that suits them best.

“We talk a lot,” Flores Jr. said. this is a good thing. Sometimes he’ll talk to someone before me, so sometimes I’ll get information from him and stuff like that. I feel like there may be a possibility (of a team), I’m not going to lie. But we’re really going to have to see, to be honest.

There’s no shortage of wide talent interested in Ohio State in the current cycle, ranging from five-star to four-star wide receivers. As Hartline’s recruiting history over the past few years has shown, OSU can’t be counted for any of them, including Flores Jr. to rank.

Maybe Flores Jr. could be in that group.

“I want a place where I feel like home and where I feel really welcome and where I can get a good education,” Flores Jr. said.

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