CATAWISSA, Pa. — Ohio State landed a major commitment on Friday morning as 5-star wideout Julian Fleming picked it over Clemson, Alabama, Penn State and Georgia.
Who is Julian Fleming? What makes him a major addition for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes?
Lettermen Row has all the angles on Fleming and what his decision means to Ohio State, the Big Ten and more.
What Julian Fleming gives Ohio State on the field
Big. Fast. Strong. Those are all correct adjectives to define Julian Fleming as a football player.
The country’s top-ranked 2020 receiver prospect, Fleming has prototypical size at 6-foot-2 and 210-pounds. And though he’s not likely to be the fastest player on the field at Ohio State, his effortless stride and explosiveness in and out of breaks makes him an ideal target in Day’s pass-first offense.
Fleming is a top-tier sprinter and long-jumper at Southern Columbia (Catawissa, Pa.) as well, so don’t get caught up on the notion that he can’t run by defenders if he needs to. He’s a complete player who can beat opponents in a number of ways and is also a physical presence in the running game. Not only is he willing to run block, but enjoys it — thoroughly.
The tendency will be to compare Fleming to former Ohio State receiver and current NFL star Michael Thomas. But sources close to his recruitment have said a more apt comparison could be former NFL All-Pro Brandon Marshall, who — more than Thomas — uses his physical strength to win the battles others don’t.
What Julian Fleming means to Ohio State 2020 recruiting class
After months of waiting for one of the big-name targets to make a decision, it’s hard to understate how important this decision by Fleming is for Ohio State and the recruiting class of 2020.
Simply put, it tells the other high-priority prospects in 2020 that the Buckeyes are still one of the country’s dominant programs, there’s no reason to be afraid to jump on board or not to trust in the vision that Day has for the Ohio State football machine.
Fleming’s announcement is another feather in the cap of receivers coach Brian Hartline and gives the Buckeyes three of their top targets at wide receiver in 2020. Fleming will join Gee Scott and Jaxon Smith-Njigba as future pass-catchers for star quarterback commit Jack Miller
As mentioned, Fleming’s commitment is the ninth in the Class of 2020 for Ohio State. He’s the second 5-star prospect committed alongside offensive tackle Paris Johnson and is now the highest-ranked member in this future group of Buckeyes. With the addition of Fleming, Ohio State retakes the lead as the top-ranked recruiting class in the Big Ten.
The 5-star receiver intends to enroll at Ohio State in January and can be expected to take a very vocal role in the finalization of the class alongside his close friend Lejond Cavazos.
What makes Julian Fleming stand out
Julian Fleming is a once-in-a-program type of football player according to Jim Roth, the state championship-winning coach at Southern Columbia. Beyond his physical talents though, Roth pointed to how Fleming has matured as a young man when others in his current position of celebrity may become harder to deal with.
“Sure, there’s the physical aspect of how good he is,” Roth told Lettermen Row. “But the maturity, the mental aspect and the way he approaches things is so impressive for a high school kid with all the offers he has, he’s just continued to mature.
“A lot of it is him as a person. But his family has helped, our football program has helped because we’ve always stressed the team concept. The environment and the culture have something to do with it, but he still gets a lot of credit. Its hard for a young adolescent to go through what he’s gone through and still have that level of maturity.”
That maturity is going to be put to the test when he arrives at Ohio State. He’s a small-town kid who will get his first taste of truly being independent when he steps on campus in January.
A big personality, Fleming will be tasked with taking on a leadership role in a wide receivers room that is turning over in the winter of 2019 — and he’ll now be right in the middle of it.