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Ohio State commit Julian Fleming earns top spot in ESPN 300

The wide receiver is now the top player in the class, but will he stay there?

Julian Fleming
Twitter | @julian_040

Ranking high school recruits is part science and part art with little separating the guys at the very the very top. Comparing an offensive lineman to a safety can be difficult to do, and becomes more than a little bit subjective, considering that you can’t really compare statistics in any meaningful manor.

That being said, being the No. 1 overall recruit in the country is not only an indicator of supreme talent, but it is also a point of pride for the recruit who rises to the top, and his future school.

On Tuesday, ESPN released their updated Top 300 and the player who holds the honor of being No. 1 is Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver commit — and all-around stud — Julian Fleming. The Pennsylvania WR has been floating around the top since the initial 300 rankings were released, but as he continues to impress during his junior season and on the camp circuit, he has moved up to the top of the list.

A wide receiver being ranked that highly is rare, and hasn’t happened since 2008 when the Alabama Crimson Tide brought in the No. 2 overall player Julio Jones (Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was No. 1).

Percy Harvin also checked in at No. 2 in 2006 for Urban Meyer and his Florida Gators (Florida State Myron Rolle was No. 1 that year). Even given the recruiting powerhouse that is Ohio State, the Buckeyes only have three current players that finished in the top 10 of their respective classes.

Shaun Wade was No. 6 and Jeff Okudah was No. 7 in the 2017 rankings, and so far they are living up to the hype. Nick Bosa was No. 3 in 2016, but after being injured for most of last season is now cashing large checks from the San Francisco 49ers.

As a point of comparison, current Ohio State WR and true freshman standout Garrett Wilson finished 17th in ESPN’s 2019 top 300. The other player currently on the roster who was a top 10 overall recruit is a guy that didn’t commit to Ohio State, but rather stayed at home in Georgia, that guy is Justin Fields.

Fields finished as the No. 1 prospect in the 2018 class — yes even above Trevor Lawrence — and we all know by now how he came to be a Buckeye. If the rankings hold, in 2020, Fields and Fleming would become one of only two QB/WR combos that have both been ranked in top 10 overall since 2006; QB Matt Barkley was No. 1 in 2009 and his USC teammates Roberts Woods was No. 7 in 2010.

That of course means that no school has come close to having both a quarterback and wide receiver who have both finished No. 1 in their respective cycles. Just the thought of that should bring excitement to the hearts of the Buckeye faithful.

Now that I have got you all pumped up let me bring you back to earth a little. There are a number of reasons that no wide receiver has finished No. 1. Simple saturation at the position in high school gives the coaches the variety to play dynamic players like Fleming in different roles, limiting the numbers that the WR position can accumulate.

Also, lets not forget that in football the credit usually goes to the QBs and the accolades of the ranking sites tend to follow. While generally that can hurt a receiver recruit like, the opposite actually seems to be helping Fleming.

His team just simply is not the national powerhouse that we see so many of the top recruits come from. Flemings’ Southern Columbia Tigers do sport an 8-0 record, but are beating up on overmatched teams in a league that provides little to no real competition. This means that the opposing squads are doing everything possible to ensure that Fleming isn’t the guy who beats them. Some believe that the lack of elite competition could ultimately be the reason that Fleming may eventually be bumped from No. 1, but only time will tell.

Fleming is an exceptionally skilled athlete, but he brings more than just athleticism to the table. He is thought to be the best blocking WR in the country, which — as we know — is a must for any receiver who wants to see the field under Brian Hartline.

He is imposing on smaller corners standing 6-foot-2, and has the strength to fight through tackles at 200 pounds. Fleming is also highly praised for his maturity and leadership ability. and very well might eventually find himself as another in a long line of recent captains coming out of the receivers room at Ohio State.

Explosive, exciting, tough, and developed well beyond his years, Julian Fleming is shaping up to be the next great Ohio State receiver, but you don’t have to take my word on it see it for yourself: