Fleck Reels in 4-Star Arizona DB Who Heat-Seeks the Football… and He’s Calling for Reinforcements


If you’re still refusing to row the boat…. (WTF are you doing?) it’s time to grab your oar. You can even borrow one of mine, until you can get back out to pick up your own. I have plenty.

Steven Ortiz Jr. doesn’t need any help with his rowing duties. This kid is fully bought in and completely capable of handling his own. Standing 5-11, the Arizona native likes to tattoo his facemask permanently into the pads of opponents. Ortiz blows up more screens in the highlight video below, than the Kool-Aid Man on a sunny Saturday.

He didn’t need to bust through U of M campus doors to make his commitment, though. Ortiz visited 12 schools while being recruited but Minnesota wasn’t one of them. This Arizona native didn’t need to feel the Minnesota cold before putting the block “M” stocking hat on.

I know it’s just a highlight video but some of these plays are just tear-worthy. Both mentally and physically, he seems to be on a different level, compared to others on that field. His acceleration to the ball is stunning… He’s like a heat-seeking missile. It doesn’t matter who is between him and the ball. He’ll light blockers up, when necessary, but the way he weaves through defenders is what seems most effortless.

The 4-star recruit often has the play read before it’s set up. Many times, especially on all of the screen plays he disrupts in his highlight, he’s weaving through defenders and heading toward the receiver way before the ball gets to his target… sometimes before the QB has even released it. His awareness seems off the charts already.

Ortiz has offers coming in from all over the country, some from the most popular helmet schools, like Oregon and Penn State. He also had them from Washington, Cal, Mississippi State, Iowa State and Nebraska. The recruiting experts parrot what the highlight clips and offer sheets show. Ortiz Jr’s 7-7 coach also raves about his physicality (both via GopherIllustrated.com):

A physical player in the secondary, Ortiz brings position flexibility.  He’ll be able to play corner, nickel or safety in the Gophers defense. From the run support, to being a guy you can blitz off the edge to obviously being able to cover, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Ortiz should shine in several ways once he’s suiting up in the Big Ten.

GopherIllustrated – Steve Wiltfong

“He’s a kid that I think in the right style he’ll do extremely well,” Ortiz’s 7-on-7 coach Tracy Ford told 247Sports. Ford also trains several college and NFL athletes at his facility in Washington state. “I think he’s a true nickel, safety type body. I know he plays outside corner now but he’s fierce in the run game, obviously he can cover, he was real good in 7-on-7 and I think he is a lot better pads player because he’s so versatile in the run game.

He’s kind of in the mold of a Tyrann Mathieu. I truly think that. He’s not extremely fast but he’s twitch. He is strong for his size. He just has a nose for the football and he’s a leader.”

GopherIllustrated – Steve Wiltfong

Ortiz’ commitment is massive and he looks like someone who should blossom into a big time contributor, individually. It was the message he brought with him last night, that doubles down on the excitement.

I wrote about it when they first started doing virtual visits, and this is only the beginning of the payoff. PJ Fleck and his staff are always hungry to do more. Right now, doing more can only happen on the recruiting trail and their RTB attitude is about to pay off in their 2021 class.

In his twitter post at the top of this blog, Ortiz says “Lets make 2021 the best class in Minnesota History…”, and he’s not joking. It’s already on its way there. Fleck has seven guys committed for 2021 and two of them are 4-stars who tip a .90+ rating… but I fully expect much more to come.

In an interview with 247Sports.com before his commitment, Ortiz mentioned a specific 4-star buddy of his, who he “doesn’t want to speak for”, that is interested in Minnesota too (it’s this 4-star buddy). Whether he lands here or not, what we’ve seen so far for this class, is only the tip of the iceberg.

PJ has had his quarterback, Athan Kaliakmanis, picked out and committed for over a year and he has been recruiting on and off of social media ever since. Earlier, I mentioned two 4-stars already committed for the 2021 class…. Athan is the other.

Grab an oar… let’s row.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan