May's Commitment From Five-Star Pennsylvania Wideout Julian Fleming a Tone-Setter for Ryan Day's First Class

By Andrew Ellis on November 20, 2019 at 8:35 am
Julian Fleming sided with Ohio State over Penn State, Clemson, and Alabama.

Ryan Day is looking for his second big win over James Franklin and the Nittany Lions.

This past May, things were already off to a nice start for Ryan Day and his first full recruiting class. Just five months into his tenure as Ohio State's 24th head football coach, Day and his new-look staff wasted no time answering many of the early questions.

Some of those questions had to do with how one of America's most successful programs would overcome the loss of Urban Meyer and his historically elite recruiting prowess. Meyer had the obvious ties to the state of Florida and was known for nabbing players from virtually every single region of the United States.

Now 11 months into the gig, Day has given the Ohio State fanbase practically zero reasons for complaints. The Buckeyes are ranked second in the country and have been playing like America's most well-rounded team. 

The same can be said for how things are going on the recruiting trail. Ohio State's class is nearly complete with 24 commitments in the fold, and it currently ranks fourth in the country behind only Clemson, LSU, and Alabama. Running back remains a need as December's early signing period looms, but every other position has been addressed in a big way. 

There have been a number of pivotal moments forthe 2020 cycle, but the May 31 commitment from five-star wide receiver Julian Fleming has really set the tone for Day's first recruiting class. 

A little over a year ago, five-star Lewis Center defensive end Zach Harrison signed with Ohio State over Michigan and Penn State. There was a time when many thought the Buckeyes were going to miss out on the state's top player. It would have been a big enough blow to lose the freakishly athletic pass rusher. Losing him to an East Division rival? That would have only magnified the loss. 

That's a feeling that James Franklin and the Nittany Lion faithful felt back in late May, and it's been lingering on for the past six months. Penn State and Clemson had been Ohio State's top competition for the country's No. 1 wide receiver, but it was Brian Hartline who emerged as the key figure in the Julian Fleming recruitment. 

Catawissa, Pennsylvania is about 90 miles east of State College, and Fleming has made countless trips to Happy Valley throughout the process. The proximity to home was viewed as a key component early on, but it became more and more clear that location wasn't going to be the deciding factor.

Hartline established the relationship last winter, and then he and Day cultivated it for several months up until the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder made his intentions known. It was on May 10 when Fleming set his commitment date, and by that time most had realized that Ohio State was the clear-cut favorite. 

At the time of his announcement, he became commitment No. 9 in the Buckeyes' class. We often talk about a team's commitments doing a little bit of recruiting on their own, and that's certainly been the case for this Ohio State class.

After Julian Fleming's announcement, Ryan Day and the Buckeyes went through a summertime commitment barrage, adding a whopping 13 more pledges by the time the 2019 season kicked off. That included several key figures in the 2020 class such as cornerback Clark Phillips III, safety Lathan Ransom, and wideout Mookie Cooper. 

Several leaders have emerged in the class as players like Fleming, Lejond Cavazos, Gee Scott Jr, and Paris Johnson Jr. have all taken on active roles as recruiters. When you combine their efforts with the recruiting chops of a Brian Hartline and Jeff Hafley, it's really the perfect recipe for building something special.

Julian Fleming wasn't the first or even the second wide receiver commit for the Class of 2020. He's set to join forces with three other ultra-talented wideouts in Gee Scott Jr., Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Mookie Cooper. There aren't many words to describe exactly how good Brian Hartline has been since taking over the wide receiver room. 

He has made multiple trips to State College this season, but despite some rumors from the PSU side, those visits have been for non-football and non-recruiting purposes. He's set to sign with Ohio State next month and enroll in January. Given the upcoming attrition at wideout, he should have ample opportunity for early playing time. 

Julian Fleming is the country's No. 3 overall prospect and one of two five-stars in the Buckeyes' recruiting class. His commitment helped to set the tone for 2020 and delivered a big blow to James Franklin and the Nittany Lions. 

Ryan Day will look to get another win over his East Division foe when the two teams collide this Saturday in Columbus.

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