Marcus Fleming is no stranger to flashy plays. The wide receiver has a reputation as one of the fastest athletes in all of Florida, which means he’s been catching deep balls and turning short passes into big gains for years.
The touchdown catch he made Friday in Northwestern’s 30-20 win against Miami Central was on a slightly different level, though. A deep pass toward the end zone was slightly underthrown, so Fleming had to reach back around a defensive back with his left hand to make the grab. He stretched out his arm and pinned the football to the defender’s back to haul in a 44-yard touchdown and put the Bulls ahead by two scores with a little more than five minutes left.
Where does the catch rank in Fleming’s career?
“The best,” he said Tuesday after wrapping up practice at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Miami.
Manny Diaz got to see it in person, too. The coach was out at Traz Powell Stadium last week with tight ends coach Stephen Field, a former Bulls coach, to watch Fleming and four others committed to the Miami Hurricanes make plays in the always anticipated rivalry clash in Miami.
It was a game Fleming has looked forward to since he transferred to Northwestern from Southridge after the 2018 season. He had heard all about the crowds of thousands who headed out to Traz for the game, but it was a little different to actually be there for it and he thrived in the high-pressure environment.
“That [expletive] was amazing. It had over thousands of people. The stands were full. ... It was just crazy. Everything was just crazy,” Fleming said. “When the crowd yelled and [went] wild, you can hear everything.”
The next day, Fleming headed out to Hard Rock Stadium to watch a Hurricanes comeback fall short in a 42-35 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies.
While it’s easy to be concerned about another Atlantic Coast Conference loss, Fleming still feels good about the direction of the program and particularly the progress the offense has made from last season.
“Offense is pretty good. I like the quick game, how they get the ball to the receivers to make a play in the open field right now,” Fleming said. “They’re coming along. They’re going to be good. They’ve just got to come together more as a family and as a team.”
For now, neither Miami nor anyone else is giving Fleming a reason to waver from his oral commitment, which he made in 2018. A four-star wide receiver in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Fleming picked the Hurricanes despite heavy interest from the Florida State Seminoles and Florida Gators, but he said Florida State is the only school he still hears from and it’s mostly just because he has a relationship with Seminoles wide receivers coach Ron Dugans from the assistant coach’s time in the same role at Miami.
“He’s just like, ‘Just make the best decision for you,’ ” Fleming said. “He’s still going to have love for me no matter what.”
From the Hurricanes, recruiting director David Cooney and assistant recruiting director DeMarcus Van Dyke are the two coaches most frequently in contact with Fleming, although the 5-foot-10, 160-pound receiver said he also hears from wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield from time to time.
Their conversations aren’t about pitching Fleming anymore. They mostly keep it casual.
While he won’t early enroll, Fleming plans to sign with Miami during the early signing period in December and officially shut down his recruitment.
Right now, it’s hard for Fleming to imagine not winding up with the Hurricanes. The receiver hasn’t visited any other schools this fall and doesn’t have any other visits lined up. Although he didn’t totally rule anything out, he remains solid for now. When asked if any other schools getting involved could change his thinking, he gave a simple answer: “Probably not.”