2018 EasternPAFootball.com Class 2A Player of the Year, Julian Fleming, Southern Columbia (4)
Julian Fleming was chosen as the 2018 Gatorade Pennsylvania High School Football Player of the Year on the day before Southern Columbia’s PIAA Class 2A State Championship. The junior, who makes an impact in all three phases of the game, can now add another award to his lengthy list. For the second year in a row Fleming has been picked as the EasternPAFootball.Com’s Player of the Year. In 2017, he shared the honor with teammate Gaige Garcia who had to be another strong candidate in 2018 for the award.
Fleming, who is the top-ranked wide receiver in the country, has narrowed down his college choices to a list that includes both of this year’s College Football Playoff National Championship schools in Alabama and Clemson. He is not ready to make his selection quite yet. “I didn’t have much time during the season to look at things because I was fully committed to doing my part in helping the team,” said Fleming.
Helping the team would be more of an understatement. District IV’s all-time leading receiver finished this championship winning season with career highs of 78 receptions for 1,524 yards and 22 touchdowns. The most overlooked part of his game is what he does on the plays that he isn’t touching the football. “I want to prove to everyone that I’m all about the team. When my teammates touch the ball, I want to give them a block to help lead them into the end zone,” Fleming said. The All-American made a highlight reel of blocks throughout the undefeated season.
On defense, he was the definition of a shutdown cornerback. Very rarely did teams test him, but when they did the result was often a negative one. “He’s a complete player. No matter where you put him, he makes an impact. His athleticism and talent level makes him a nightmare for whoever he goes up against,” said head coach Jim Roth. Fleming tied for a team-high with four interceptions and he was able to return three of them for touchdowns.
On special teams, he was one of the best punters in the state. Only having to punt 19 times total, his right foot averaged 41 yards per punt with only five of them being returnable. As a returner, him and Garcia were a nightmare for the opponent. On punts and kickoffs they combined to touch the ball less than 20 times because of how scary their presence is. Fleming was able to return a punt for a touchdown on one of the occasions where he was mistakenly given a chance.
He will head in to his senior season with 183 receptions for 3,942 yards and 55 touchdowns. The Tigers are 47-1 during his career including two state championships and one state runner-up. He wants to make sure that they get back to Hershey for his final year. “That’s our goal each year. You want to be playing in that sixteenth game. As seniors, we will be counted on as the leaders,” said Fleming.
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