Last April, the Ohio State Buckeyes picked up a commitment from the No. 2 receiver and consensus five-star Garrett Wilson. It was considered a coup for the Buckeyes at the time, and it was even more impressive when Ryan Day and Brian Hartline were able to keep Wilson in the class after Urban Meyer announced his retirement just weeks before the early signing period.
Wilson was Ohio State’s first five-star receiver commit since Jalin Marshall in 2013, and, according to 247Sports, just the third five-star wideout to ever sign with Ohio State. Now, a year and a month later, the Buckeyes have a fourth. On Friday, the top receiver in the country, Julian Fleming, announced his pledge to the Buckeyes.
There really isn’t much introduction needed for Fleming, a player who has sat atop Ohio State’s recruiting board for months, so I won’t give him an introduction. Let’s jump right into the scouting report on the newest Buckeye.
On the field
It certainly seems like Ryan Day and Brian Hartline have a type of receiver that they want in Day’s modified air raid attack. Garrett Wilson, Gee Scott, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and now Julian Fleming are all natural, developed receivers. That’s quite the change from the approach of the prior regime (taking athletes and trying to develop them into receivers), but it makes a whole lot of sense when you look at the success in year one of another developed youngster: Chris Olave.
Of that group, however, there may not be a more college ready player than Fleming, and that’s why he’s a top five prospect and the No. 1 receiver in the nation. He has the size at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds to be a true No. 1 receiver, and while he’s not a Ted Ginn Jr. level athlete, he’s absolutely fast enough and athletic enough to torch cornerbacks.
He doesn’t really need that elite athleticism, though. Fleming runs routes as well as anyone in the 2020 class, and perhaps more importantly, no one is beating him at the point of attack. He turns 50/50 balls into 100/0 balls because he doesn’t drop passes, and because he attacks passes with more aggression than any receiver I’ve seen in a long, long time.
Now, pair those ball skills, route running, and aggression with Fleming’s excellent vision once he has the ball, and you’ve got, essentially, the ideal receiver for Ryan Day’s offense. It’s like he was built in a lab to fit the exact specifications for it. He can eat all day underneath, gashing defenses with slants, screens and drag routes, or, he can serve as an excellent vertical threat, with the ability to snag passes over top of shorter cornerbacks or safeties. There is no wrong way for Ryan Day to use Fleming in his offense.
Jack Miller at quarterback, Fleming as the No.1 receiver, Garrett Wilson as the two, and Jameson Williams inside in the slot in a few years? That should get any Buckeye fan pretty excited, if you ask me.
In the class
Fleming is the third highest rated recruit to ever sign with Ohio State, per 247Sports, behind just Terrelle Pryor and Ginn Jr. (would also be behind Justin Fields, if Fields counted as a recruit). That’s uh, not bad, for a brand new head coach, six months into his tenure at one of the largest schools in the country.
The rating is well deserved, in my opinion, and Fleming’s rankings in the 247Sports composite support that as well. He comes to Ohio State as the No. 5 player in the country, the No. 1 receiver, and the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania. He had offers from every school that mattered when it comes to college football, and chose Ohio State over his home state Nittany Lions, Alabama, Clemson and Georgia. For Day and Brian Hartline to win a battle over arguably the three best programs in college football right now, and a home state favorite, is pretty damn impressive.
Fleming is the third receiver to join Ohio State’s 2020 class, along with Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and he’s the ninth member overall. His pledge moves Ohio State into the top 10, and puts them right within striking distance of Florida State, Florida and Notre Dame, all of whom are sitting immediately ahead of the Buckeyes. That this is the case with just nine commits (only other team anywhere close to that in the top ten is Miami, with ten) is a testament to the quality in the class.