“Coach Martinez offered me,” Fleming told Volquest. “I wasn’t really expecting it, but I was more so expecting to have a good conversation, but he told me he really liked my film and didn’t want to pass up the chance to be the first coach in the SEC to offer me. We were on the phone for like 30 minutes and we had a great conversation.” “It really meant a lot because my Uncle played at Tennessee next to Eric Berry. So it really hit home and was big for my family. It was definitely breathtaking to hear I got an offer from them. It was really kind of crazy because I didn’t expect it when he called because it was our first time on the phone. It was just crazy and a surreal moment.”
“Coach Martinez likes how versatile I am and likes how I play both offense and defense,” Fleming said. “But he really likes how I can play anywhere in the secondary. It’s not really any one position. He likes me at slot-corner or safety though.” The relationship between Fleming and Willie Martinez is off to a great start. “I could tell he was really in to getting to know who I am as a person before a player. Our conversation wasn’t really about football. It was about getting to know me, my mom and brothers. He’s really a family guy in my opinion. “That’s big time because football is definitely part of my future, but I also want a coach that is going to be a coach, but also a mentor but someone I can go talk to off the field. That will play a big role in my recruitment.
Fleming will visit Arkansas on April 12, Virginia Tech April 19, Virginia March 26 and Minnesota on April 2. He intends to then visit Tennessee on the second or third weekend of April. “Coach Martinez said they have one of the best business schools, but I’m also looking at sports medicine. I also want to learn about the gameday vibe and get that gameday feel. Going to have to make it for a gameday visit, but I really want to see what the people are like. I know their great because my Uncle told me.” “My uncle was the first in my family to go to college to play football, so it was surreal,” Fleming said. “My family background is going to play a really big role when it comes to Tennessee in my recruitment.”
“The relationship with Tennessee has been going great. They are one of my top-schools right now, so we’ve really got a good relationship going on right now,” Fleming told Volquest. “Coach [Tim] Banks came to my school last week to see me workout a little bit. He was just wanting to see some of his top-guys and was letting me know that I’m a priority.
“Coach Banks sees me as a guy who can play both safety and cornerback, just because of my size. I’m a priority for him right now.”
The three-star can also play the STAR position and makes plays on the offensive side of the football at wide receiver for Trinity Episcopal as well.
“Everything is big at Tennessee compared to the other schools I’ve visited,” the 2023 target said of his first trip to campus. “Knoxville is a big city and the campus in general is just big. I really enjoyed myself there.
“When I was down there, they were missing a few people, but even the people who were still on the field, they were a fast defense. The practice was very fast, the defense was very fast. I feel like I could fit right in with that defensive scheme.”
Off the practice field, defensive backs coach Willie Martinez spent some 1-on-1 time with the prospect. The two were able to talk shop in a film room setting, going over plays, tendencies and more.
“Coach Martinez made me a slide show, showing me how I fit on the defense. He was showing me how I compare to some of the players they have now,” Fleming said. “He pulled up some clips from my film and said some of the plays I was making is similar to the plays their guys are making.
“He really blew me away with that. Just being able to sit down and talk ball, I can tell they are both passionate about the game. I know if I go there, I’ll be coached by guys who are passionate about the game and who can develop me.”
Head coach Josh Heupel also made an impression on the three-star.
“I had a 1-on-1 meeting with him and my dad when I was down there,” the prospect said of the boss. “He’s a straight-forward man and a quarterback guru for one, but he has so much experience in college football and that’s what you want in a coach. He’s just a great coach.”
Tennessee is favored to receive one of the four remaining official visits while 8-9 teams are currently in the running for the talented athlete. A top-five could be released as early as July and the desired timeline for Fleming would be an August announcement, right before the senior campaign begins.
With the Vols showing tons of recent interest, Tennessee should be in this one as the summer months continue. Working to get the three-star locked in for an official visit is a must as it would likely serve as the only other time the prospect would make it back to campus prior to his announcement.
UT also has family ties in play here. Former Vols safety CJ Fleming is the prospect’s uncle and former Tennessee All-American and NFL star Eric Berry is a close family friend and mentor figure for the prospect.
“They are telling me to make the best decision for me, but they are also kind of being a little biased towards their school,” Fleming laughed.