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Caring Is Creepy 2012: Have A Seat, Reese Fleming

(Also: longer highlight video here.)

And this is why it doesn't pay to get bent out of shape about recruiting in June.  A week ago Iowa was sitting on one recruit and people were starting to get antsy.  A week later, Iowa's added three more recruits, including a pair of talented, highly-regarded athletes at two key skill positions, wide receiver and corner back.  Cameron Wilson was the wide receiver in question and now he's joined by Maurice (Reese) Fleming, a cornerback recruit out of Chicago. His measurements are amusing: ESPN lists him at 6'0", 180 lbs, Rivals and 247Sports list him at 6'1", 185 lbs, and Scout lists him 5'11", 185 lbs.  Let's just agree that he's around 6'0", 180 lbs.

Per Rivals, Fleming had a solid set of offers: in addition to a host of offers from MAC schools, he also had offers from many of the upper Midwest BCS schools, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Cincinnati, and Indiana.  Rivals, Scout, and 247Sports all rank him as a 3*, while ESPN thinks a little more highly of them (4*).  Like many past Iowa players and recruits before him, Fleming comes to Iowa as a former high school quarterback, playing primarily as a wildcat quarterback (under the old "put your best athlete at quarterback and let him go" philosophy that permeates high school football).  No one projects him as a quarterback at the next level -- ESPN and Rivals both list him as an athlete, while Scout and 247Sports list him as a wide receiver.  

For his part, Fleming talked about wanting to become a shutdown corner and "one of the best cornerbacks in the country" in an interview ($) discussing his commitment with Rivals, but he also tweeted this


Well, he's not lacking in self-confidence, that's for sure.  My initial thought was, no, Fleming won't be splitting time on offense and defense at Iowa.  Plenty of guys have switched from one side of the ball to the other, but I can't recall the last Iowa player that legitimately played two ways.  Then I watched his videos and I was struck by how dynamic he looked with the ball in his hands: he's an elusive, fluid runner with absolutely explosive speed in the open field.  I am a little concerned that he so often tries to just use raw speed to get to the corner and outrun the defense; it's one thing to be successful doing that at the high school level, but it's something else entirely to be able to do that in the Big Ten.  To consistently make runs like that in the Big Ten you need elite speed and it's not clear that Fleming possesses that sort of speed.  His video has lists a 40 time of 4.32, which certainly would be elite speed and ESPN praises his "quickness, outstanding initial burst, and top end speed," but Rivals still only lists him with a fake 40 time of 4.5.  (And ESPN's Camp Results are even less encouraging, with a listed 40 time of 4.68.)

He's undoubtedly a very good athlete -- he's just not a superfreak (and there's no shame in that).  In any event, Fleming represents a continuation of Iowa's trend of recruiting bigger, stronger, and faster athletes for the defensive backfield; we're a long way away from the likes of plucky, undersized overachievers like Jovon Johnson filling out the secondary.  That's not meant as a slight against Johnson -- he was a very productive corner at Iowa -- but a reflection of the fact that he was the exception, not the norm, when it comes to corners that size.  Given his focus on offense at the high school level, Fleming will probably need some time to improve his defensive technique (assuming he isn't switched to offense, considering how explosive he looks with the ball in his hands), but he could be an immediate boost to Iowa's special teams when he sets foot on campus, either as a member of the coverage team or possibly as a return man.