Wide receiver Julian Fleming, the No. 4-ranked recruit overall, has committed to Ohio State. Fleming, the top receiver in the 2020 class, chose the Buckeyes over Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Penn State and is the second five-star to commit to Ohio State in this cycle.
“For a while, I thought I was going to Penn State, then for a while I thought I was going to Clemson, and then I just finally settled down and figured it out,” Fleming said. “It was just the at-home feeling and their players. [Ohio State] puts their players first and all my visits there, I had countless hours with all the players, so I really got the college vibe right away.”
His recruitment has gone back and forth, and for quite some time many believed that he would add to Clemson’s impressive recruiting class. So much so that Fleming was recruited by the current Clemson commits and had to break the news to his peers that he wouldn’t be joining them in college.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m still in their group chat,” Fleming said. “They were all recruiting me really hard, but they understood and respected my decision, and once I told them I wasn’t going to Clemson, they all said good luck. I talk to D.J. [Uiagalelei] all the time, and he’s one of those kind-hearted people that was just like, ‘You’re going to do it wherever you go,’ so that was a cool thing.”
Fleming, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound wide receiver from Southern Columbia Area High School in Catawissa, Pennsylvania, joins five-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. in the class. Remarkably, Ohio State has landed at least one five-star commit in each of its classes going back to 2012.
This is the sixth five-star commit for the Buckeyes going back to the 2017 class, and Fleming is now adding another elite-level receiver to the future offense.
Ryan Day and his staff signed Garrett Wilson, the No. 2-ranked receiver; Ronnie Hickman, the No. 15 receiver; and Jameson Williams, the No. 15 wideout, in the 2019 class and now have the top-ranked receiver in 2020. Add that to the product already on the field and the success Ohio State saw on offense and Fleming is excited about joining and seeing success himself.
“Ohio State’s offense was clicking last year; it was definitely a big influence,” Fleming said. “They were like No. 1 in passing all year. They have Justin Fields coming in now, and they have some people that are going to be there for a little while.
Outside of the offense, Fleming was heavily influenced by the off-field programs Ohio State has set up for its players and the amount of focus in helping them after football.
The Buckeyes’ art director, designer and brander, Samuel Silverman, developed a program called Brand U that takes players step-by-step through a branding exercise and helps them develop their own personal brand. The program can last all four years the player is on campus and has even bled over into players’ time after college in whatever field they choose.
“The Brand U thing was really cool, and I like their real-life Wednesdays where they have speakers come in weekly,” Fleming said. “Also, their internship program, they have one of the widest ones being able to send their players worldwide. Just to be able to get opportunities outside of football, so those are two things that stood out to me outside of football.”
The Buckeyes help their players off the field, but they are helping themselves on the field by adding Fleming to this class. The commitment gives Ohio State seven ESPN 300 commitments and four prospects ranked in the top three of their position.
Fleming is a prospect who could come in and play right away, but although he is hoping that’s the outcome, he is willing to wait his turn and work for an opportunity.
“I’m definitely going to try right away because they’ll only have a couple solidified spots,” Fleming said. “They lost three receivers this year; they’ll probably lose one or two next year. I’m hoping to go make an immediate impact, that’s always the goal, but if anything [else] happens, I’m just going to try to work my way up.”
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