Julian Fleming explored every avenue before announcing he would play college football at Ohio State University and was relieved to finally put an end to a long and busy recruiting process.
The Southern Columbia wide receiver answered questions about his college pick and his recruitment during a 50 minute media session, Saturday.
Fleming discussed the main reason why he is joining the Buckeyes’ football program, instead of joining Penn State, Clemson and other schools.
“I would say the at home feeling. Penn State’s right down there, but Ohio State was such an at home feeling with the players, the coaching, the entire staff as a whole. The three players that just got drafted still text me all the time, checking up on me and everything like that. I probably have the best relationship with all their players in general as well. So, I got like the real run down of Ohio State instead of just the coaching, recruiting part,” Fleming explained about the atmosphere at Ohio State.
Now that his big decision is set in stone, Fleming is relieved and is focused on helping his fellow Tigers win games this coming season.
“There’s definitely been a weight lifted off my shoulders for sure. I feel like this year we can go in and just focus on football as a whole, in a team aspect and not have outside distractions of ‘Where’s Julian going to school ?” and things like that. So, I mean I think it’s going to be a good thing for me and the entirety of the team to have no outside distractions and just going and being able to play,” he said.
During the selection process, Fleming looked at several factors, including the quarterback spot. ESPN’s No. 1 ranked wide receiver in the 2020 recruiting class has been in good company at SCA with Stone Hollenbach throwing him the vast majority of his touchdowns. Luckily, for him the Buckeyes have been successful at finding QB talent.
“Quarterback was definitely a big thing. They have a real good one in my class Jack Miller, he’s a 2020 commit. They also have a 2021 kid, but right now they have Justin Fields from Georgia, you know he’s a stud. He’s dual-threat. He’s a real good kid. Honestly, quarterback was definitely a big priority, but everything else kind of, definitely, weighed in a little bit more on top of that,” Fleming added about the quarterbacks OSU has attracted to Columbus.
Of course with a big announcement like this comes input from those in the community who love the Nittany Lions and the ‘We Are’ chant.
Fleming said outside perspectives did not make his choice an easy one.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure, outside pressure besides myself and my family. Coaches, everybody always felt like they needed to give their two-cents. I’d walk by on the street and they’d be like, ‘Go to Penn State’ and a long time I thought I was going to go there. It was just hard,” Fleming noted.
“I had to crunch some stuff down. They weren’t stable on offense, defense. They weren’t pulling out games. Their coaching has been unstable for the past couple years. A lot of stuff weighed into it.”
It does not seem likely that a top tier recruit would commit to a program that lost its head coach to retirement, but Fleming said it was not a concern due to his successor, Ryan Day, stepping in and getting valuable experience during last season.
“Honestly, I had a really good relationship with Urban (Meyer), but Coach Day had to fill in for those first three games of the season. So, he did a great job there and honestly he coached most of the Ohio State team the whole year, because Urban was starting to let him take plays, because he knew he was leaving. You could see how well coach Day stepped into that position and what he did with the offense. It was pretty easy. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Fleming explained about the Day as the head coach.
Fleming will be enrolling early at Ohio State in January, which he said will help give him time to figure out the playbook and get used to college life. He will not be playing basketball or participating in track and field during his senior year.
HAND IT TO HARTLINE
Fleming mentioned the important role Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline had on him picking the Buckeyes.
Hartline played seven NFL seasons and logged 104 games played. The 32-year old recorded nearly 4,800 yards and hauled in 14 touchdowns.
“Probably the relationship outside of football that I built with Coach Hartline — that was a selling point for me. A lot of coaches, they try to call you, text you and everything wants to be about football, about what you can do for the university and what the university can do for you. With him I developed such a good relationship where everyday we’d be on the phone — nothing would be about football. It be about what he’s doing right now, how his family is, about how my family is, about how my workouts are and stuff like that. So, it just got to the point where I had the best relationship with him. I had the best relationship with everyone at Ohio State and I just felt that home feeling and that was it,” Fleming said.