The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their college careers, as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Justin Fields and Julian Fleming can feel each other's pain when it comes to the recruiting process. They've both had to make a nerve-racking phone call to James Franklin.
Fields committed to Penn State on Dec. 1, 2016, but on June 6, 2017, he revoked his commitment to Franklin and the Nittany Lions.
The Fleming File
- Class: 2020
- Size: 6-foot-2/200 lbs
- Pos: WR
- School: Southern Columbia (Catawissa, PA)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★★
- Composite Rank: 1 WR
“I just remember before I called Coach Franklin, I was nervous,” Fields said in an Ohio State press conference in later November. “I was like, 'Ugh, I don't want to do this right now.' ... Coach Franklin, he didn't see it coming. I just had that phone call with him. It definitely was one of the hardest phone calls I've ever had to make.”
Almost to the exact date two years later, Fleming made a similar call to Franklin, delivering the news that he was committing to Ohio State. It wasn't an easy decision for the Catawissa, Pa., native who attends Southern Columbia High School just a 90-minute trip from State College.
But despite being less than a quarter-tank of gas away from his home state school, it never felt like home.
On May 31, 2019, the five-star receiver committed to the Buckeyes, and that pledge has now been officially sealed with his signing on Wednesday. He's coming home.
Final destination...... 4s out pic.twitter.com/bX3qjQEA8R— JF4 (@julian_040) May 31, 2019
“(Penn State is) right down the road. I’ve been there 20 times at least. We started early," Fleming said on June 4. "It did hurt a little bit saying no to them. They were a little hurt by it. Coach Day and Coach Hartline are my two people. Coach Hartline played there, and he played in the NFL for a long time. He’s back there coaching now, and I don’t see a reason for him to leave. And Coach Day stepped into a stable spot for Urban Meyer, who was there for a while.”
With that strong succession plan in place and one of the country's top position coaches in Columbus, Fleming will come to town in January as an early enrollee and get a head start to potentially cracking the receiver rotation in 2020.
Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson will be entrenched as starters, but Fleming has the chance to bring his massive skillset to the No. 3 receiver role.
That skillset is one that's comparable to a five-tool MLB prospect profile. Fleming has speed (4.45 in the 40), strength, the ability to hit a home run (a.k.a. get separation on deep balls for long completions), can hit for average (he has a high floor with his ability to rack up catches) and can field (a.k.a has a pair of smooth hands that can haul in just about any pass thrown his way).
Fields and Fleming each eschewed an opportunity to play for Penn State and were each the No. 2-ranked overall player in their class (2018, 2020). That's how the two supremely talented athletes are connected in their respective recruitments. Now we'll get to see if they have a connection on the field.