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5-star WR Julian Fleming plans to explore options, return to Penn State
Julian Fleming is arguably Pennsylvania’s premier prospect, regardless of age, halfway through his football career at Southern Columbia High School. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound sophomore produced at a sensational level in 2017, leading his prep squad to a state championship and adding to an expansive list of college scholarship offers.
“I’m just trying to stay grounded, keep my head on my shoulders and not let anything cause me to be arrogant,” Fleming told Land of 10. “I just want to be a normal kid.”
Family and friends help with that, but the noise surrounding his recruitment rarely subsides. Considered the No. 1 receiver and No. 2 overall recruit in the 247Sports 2020 rankings, Fleming can expect consistent attention from several Power-5 coaching staffs until the day he signs a National Letter of Intent.
That moment remains at least 20 months away. In the meantime, Fleming is exploring his options, which include Penn State.
The Nittany Lions extended an offer last June when the 5-star talent traveled to State College for a 7-on-7 tournament. He later returned for Lasch Bash festivities in July and a Penn State victory over Georgia State during the season.
Fleming, who collected 105 receptions for 2,418 yards and 33 touchdowns as an underclassman, again spent time on campus Monday. He traveled to Happy Valley alongside his grandfather and uncle.
“It was fun. I know a lot of the people up there just from past visits, so it was another opportunity to spend time with them,” Fleming said. “Everything was well prepared and I was greeted by every single coach as soon as I walked in.”
His visit coincided with one from fellow prized 2020 prospect Paris Johnson Jr., who is listed as the top tackle recruits in 2020 rankings. They ate lunch together, sharing the meal with their respective families and members of the Nittany Lions staff.
“He’s every bit of 6-7,” Fleming observed. “Penn State coaches made us a priority and made sure we felt appreciated. They want us, not just as players but as the individuals we are outside of football.”
This trip provided an opportunity for first-year Nittany Lions receivers coach David Corley to further strengthen his standing with the in-state standout.
“We’ve talked on the phone plenty of times and have been developing a relationship, so we really didn’t skip a beat during my visit,” Fleming said.
Corley replaced Josh Gattis on the Penn State staff this winter. Gattis, who served as receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator during Franklin’s first four seasons with the Nittany Lions, left for a job at Alabama in January. The Crimson Tide offered Fleming soon after Gattis’ arrival.
“We have a scheduled thing where I call him every week or so,” Fleming said. “Coach Gattis is a big pickup for any school. The relationships he creates with his players is huge, and his energy is ridiculous. He’s one of the big reasons I started to love Penn State so much.”
So how did his departure impact how Fleming assesses the program?
“I still love Penn State,” he said. “They have a great coaching staff and Coach Franklin is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. It’s all about people, and then you just have to fall in love with the program. It can’t just be the people, because they come and go.”
Hype to receive an offer to the UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICAN GAME!!! pic.twitter.com/p20ALUg1fG
— 🃏0J4🃏 (@julian_040) April 3, 2018
Fleming plans to return to Beaver Stadium on April 21 when Penn State wraps up spring practice with its Blue-White Game. Next week, he’ll journey with his mother and grandfather to SEC territory for their first look at Alabama and Georgia.
He’ll reunite with Gattis in Tuscaloosa on Friday, April 13.
“I’m excited to see Alabama’s facilities and what life is like at the school,” Fleming said. “I already know about their football tradition, so I just really want to see what their day consists of — going through workouts, classes and everything.”
A trip to Athens awaits April 14.
“Georgia kind of popped up out of nowhere after Alabama [offered],” he said. “Obviously they’re coming off a great year that surprised a lot of people. I want to see how their coaches are as people and have a chance to meet everybody.”
Fleming also intends to visit Michigan and Ohio State this summer, though specific dates are not finalized. He might trim a widespread recruitment to a select few favorite schools prior to his junior season, but explained that remains undetermined as he wants to avoid rushing any decisions.
Along with navigating through this process, Fleming is focused on getting back to football activities. He underwent surgery on Feb. 1 that repaired a torn labrum in his right hip.
“I’ve been moving around without any pain so things are going pretty good,” Fleming said.
Fleming is a few weeks into physical therapy and hopes to begin jogging in May. Anticipated progression from there should have him prepared for preseason training camp.
Nittany Lions offer New Jersey DE Fadil Diggs
Penn State identified yet another target from New Jersey on Wednesday, adding Fadil Diggs to its 2020 recruiting board. He tweeted news of the offer.
The 6-4, 205-pound prospect traveled to campus on Wednesday with Woodrow Wilson (Camden, N.J.) High School teammates, according to Blue-White Illustrated’s Ryan Snyder. The Nittany Lions join a growing line of suitors for Diggs, who also reports offers from North Carolina, Rutgers, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Diggs, who shows off his athletic versatility by lining up as a receiver and edge rusher in high school, is considered the No. 10 weakside defensive end and a top-200 overall recruit in 2020 prospect rankings. He tallied 10 ½ sacks in 2017, according to NJ.com.
Watch his sophomore season highlights here:
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