Orlando, Fla. — Julian Fleming arrived at this year’s Under Armour Future 50 combine as 247Sport’s top receiver in 2020 and the no. 3 prospect overall. By the time the curtain fell on the event, 247’s team of analysts agreed that the Catawissa (Pa.) Southern Columbia star had lived up to that billing. And that’s despite getting few opportunities due to poor quarterback play.
Not only does Fleming possess all the physical tools to be a standout at the next level, he has an outstanding attitude to boot. That’s why a veritable who’s who of college football is hot on his trail. He recently singled out Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Southern Cal, Clemson, Penn State and Ohio State as his top ten. Of those, three are currently pursuing him the hardest.
“Penn State, Ohio State, Florida, probably those three, really,” Fleming said. “They’re making a big push.”
Most observers believe Penn State is the team to beat. The Nittany Lions’ sizable Crystal Ball lead is reflective of that. For his part, though, Fleming insists it’s premature to lock him into staying home.
“(Penn State) is great, but part of me (is like), ‘it’s great it’s (Pennsylvania)… it’s close and everything’,” said Fleming. “But then the other me is like, ‘why stay in PA my whole life?’ There are just so many opportunities to get out of the area and be in such a whole new environment. So, it’s just hard to balance that out.”
One of the schools looking to get him to think further outside of that Keystone State box is the University of Michigan. Communication with the Wolverines has been on an uptick, and now he planning to add a face to face meeting to the mix in the coming months.
“It’s going well,” Fleming said regarding his Michigan recruitment. “I talk to the coaches. We started to contact each other more on a daily basis. It was my first offer, so it is a big one. It really opened up the door for me. I’m interested in Michigan. I’d like to go see the campus for myself. One of my teammates went up and said it was beautiful, so I’ve got to get up there.”
“I talk to Coach Harbaugh,” he later added. “He’s a little goofy, but I like him a lot. He came to one of our practices, this year. And then (new receivers coach) Ben McDaniels… I’ve talked to him a lot. So. we’re getting to a close relationship.”
While he has yet to see Michigan firsthand, he watched the Wolverines from afar and came away impressed. Especially with the their performance versus the Nittany Lions in October.
“(Michigan) had a great season this year,” said Fleming. “They knocked off some big teams. I mean, they killed Penn State. They really blew them out of the water. Honestly, Michigan is turning into a powerhouse. If they keep it up and keep making that push, they’re going to start getting with those SEC teams and making that push for the national championship.”
The next phase of Fleming’s Maize & Blue recruitment entails him getting more acquainted with Michigan off the field. The non-football aspect of his decision will be an important consideration for all the suitors on his list.
“I’ve seen (Michigan) play enough, so I know their playing style and things like that,” Fleming said regarding what he hopes to see during his upcoming trip to Ann Arbor. “I’d like to see facility-wise, coaching staff, academic-wise. That’s a big thing because football doesn’t last forever. So, just a lot of life after football things. What kind of education (do) they carry?”
“Honestly, the most important thing at this point is the education,” he later added. “It carries because football doesn’t last forever, and my family has really made that a thing. Not everybody can go to the NFL. So, the things that that the education is going to allow you to do after football is probably the biggest thing that’s sitting right now.”
Fleming plans to take his time sorting through all of his options, but he won’t hesitate in making his pick if he suddenly begins feeling like he knows where he wants to go. A spring or summer pledge would allow him to shift his athletic focus toward his final high school season, and then his early enrollment in college.
Said Fleming, “we might take (recruiting) all the way to the early signing period. It’s still a thought in there. But honestly, as soon as we get it cut down that commitment’s going to come out. Because it’s a stressful process. It’s a blessing and a curse.”