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Our latest Penn State Nittany Lions Recruiting Question of the Day comes from Jerry, via Facebook:
What do you expect in the recruitment of Julian Fleming?
Julian Fleming has swiftly replaced Micah Parsons as the Pennsylvania prep prospect discussed most often by Nittany Lions fans. A rising junior at Southern Columbia (Catawissa, Pa.) High School, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver earned an offer from Penn State hours before the program’s 2017 Lion Strong 7-on-7 tournament.
He returned to campus last weekend for the same event, presenting another opportunity for James Franklin and the coaching staff to make him feel at home. Fleming, who has recovered from offseason surgery that repaired a torn labrum in his right hip, delivered the latest example of his 5-star skill set Saturday, as noted by 247Sports’ Mark Brennan.
“His best performance came against DeMatha Red, a team from the Maryland high school powerhouse that featured D-I talent everywhere you looked,” Brennan wrote. “Fleming scored three touchdowns, including a deep bomb down the middle where he blew past [2019 Alabama safety commit DeMarcco] Hellams. It was almost comical to watch DeMatha attempt to guard him.”
Fleming is listed 12th in 2020 composite rankings and the guess here is he’d be closer to No. 1 if surgery didn’t sideline him throughout the spring camp circuit. As I noted early last season, Fleming belongs under consideration as the class’ top overall talent.
A three-sport star who led Southern Columbia’s basketball team in several stats and qualified for multiple state track and field finals as a freshman, he is an exceptional athlete who brings an impressive level of polish to the position. A nuanced route runner with a steadily expanding physical frame, Fleming looks like the kind of receiver recruit who can instantly spark a collegiate offensive attack.
He caught 105 passes for 2,418 yards and 33 touchdowns as an underclassman. Fleming exceeded 100 receiving yards in 11 games during that span.
State College is less than 80 miles west of Southern Columbia, which allowed for several visits to Happy Valley during the first year of his Nittany Lions recruitment. Fleming was warmly greeted by Penn State fans while attending the 2018 Blue-White Game, and the staff continues to make a strong impression.
“I’ve never seen a more welcoming crew than Penn State,” he said after the spring game. “As soon as I arrive, I get greeted by almost every single coach. Every person in my family knows every one of them now.”
As things stand now, Fleming would be the second-highest rated offensive recruit to sign with Penn State since 2006 if he picks the in-state squad. New Jersey receiver Justin Shorter (No. 8 in 2018) tops the list, though it’s worth noting he wasn’t regarded as a composite 5-star prospect until less than two months shy of his senior season.
Fleming’s prowess as a premier member of the 2020 class is illustrated by an offer sheet that features Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Southern Cal. Still only halfway through high school, he’s yet to trim down college options.
Notre Dame presented his latest offer on Wednesday afternoon and it’s safe to assume several more will arrive before his junior season. Fleming will have a choice between staying near home or heading to campuses in various corners of the country.
“Obviously [Penn State] is where everybody wants me to go,” he said in April. “My family is right here, and everyone from home wants to come see me. Yeah, I hear it from everybody.”
He also hears from everybody on social media. Fleming has become a recognizable recruiting target for fan bases of college programs far beyond Pennsylvania. That volume should only continue to increase.
The earliest Fleming can sign with a university is December 2019. Between now and then, there will be plenty of developments ranging from staff changes to an evolution of personal preference.
Penn State figures to remain a primary contender, if not the perceived program to beat, as Fleming searches for the right fit. But anyone who assumes it’s destiny he’ll land in a Nittany Lions uniform is underestimating the broad scope of this recruitment.
Remember, Parsons backed off his initial verbal pledge with Penn State after 14 months to explore alternative universities. It provided him with an opportunity to fully consider options that arose during his early Nittany Lions commitment.
“We’ve had a few conversations about the future,” Fleming said of Parsons. “He always says Penn State is the place to be and I’m next, but he also says to have fun in your recruitment and pick wherever feels like home.”
Fleming avoided making any decisions as an underclassman and you can’t fault him if he elects to extend this recruitment deep into his high school career. Suitors create a long line for a player of his caliber, allotting him an opportunity to be thorough, patient and selective.
Expect Fleming to further solidify his status as an all-time Pennsylvania great along the way. If the latest peek at him post-operation is any indication, another dominant campaign with Southern Columbia awaits this fall.