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August 11, 2008

Franklin's Fleming picks Pittsburgh

Franklin safety/running back Carl Fleming made history last week.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder committed to Pittsburgh on Friday, becoming the first Franklin football player in the program’s history to go to a Division IA school. Fleming picked the Panthers over offers from Buffalo, Connecticut, Delaware and Eastern Michigan.

“I’m very fortunate and thankful,” Fleming said. “A lot of kids would die for a DI scholarship. I’m just real excited to go to Pittsburgh and showcase my talent.”

Pitt’s courtship of Fleming began in May when former Maryland assistant and current Panthers wide receivers coach Bryan Bossard visited Fleming at school. Pitt was impressed with Fleming’s highlight tape, but wanted to see him in person before extending an offer. So in June, Fleming made the four-and-a-half hour drive from Baltimore to Pittsburgh for camp.

“I went out there and didn’t have a scholarship on the table, so I could just relax and do what I do,” Fleming said. “But I just showed them I can play and I’m DI material. I’m not the most heavily-recruited DI recruit. I’m a little under-the-radar, but that’s what helped me a lot. Going up there and ... being the guy nobody knows about helped me a lot.”

Fleming worked out at running back and safety. Two weeks later, the Pitt coaches extended an offer.

As a junior, Fleming rushed for 1,099 yards and 15 touchdowns. From the safety position, he recorded 50 tackles and picked off six passes. Franklin head coach Anthony Burgos said Fleming’s success on both sides of the ball intrigued the Pittsburgh coaching staff.

“They just loved his film and loved him as an individual,” Burgos said. “He has such an upside to him that he can play plenty of positions. His highlight film showed him as a quarterback, running back, defensive back, linebacker, receiver. He has such versatility. He’s such a great athlete and has a tremendous upside to him.”

The Pitt coaches don’t know where they’ll put Fleming yet, so he’ll be brought in as an athlete recruit. Fleming said that’s an ideal situation for him.

“That’s actually what I wanted because going to college at just one position is kind of limiting,” Fleming said. “If I don’t like one at that level, then why not try the other position, just to see how fast I can get on the field.”

Fleming took an unofficial visit to Delaware, and had planned to visit UConn over the weekend. But when Fleming thought about what he wanted in a school, he canceled his trip to Storrs, Conn., and informed the Panthers coaches of his choice. Ultimately, Fleming couldn’t find a flaw in Pittsburgh.

“I actually like the fact that the campus is actually in the city,” Fleming said. “Some campuses are out in the middle of nowhere, but in Pittsburgh you’ll still be interacting with the regular community. ... When I went on the tour of the campus and talked to the academic advisor, it just felt like it fit me as far as what I want to do in life. The coaches are great people, the players are welcoming, and I just felt I could be successful in the city of Pittsburgh. And how often do you get to share a facility with an NFL team? So I want to take advantage of that.”

Fleming, who plans on studying business and communications, said it’s a relief to have made his commitment.

“It does feel real good to have it out of the way, so I can go into the season focused,” Fleming said. “I just felt like it was time to make that decision. I’ve been waiting a while, and I’m really excited I’m going to be a Panther.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 12:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local recruiting

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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