Why Penn State football is thriving with Julian Fleming: 'I love being around him.'

It's quite possibly taken Julian Fleming four years seasons, two bad shoulders and one dramatic change of working scenery.

The Penn State football wide receiver from Catawissa, Pa. − via Ohio State − has proclaimed himself healthier than ever, seemingly perfect-placed news, for all involved.

It is exquisite timing for a Nittany Lion team in the midst of breaking in a new offensive coordinator and new scheme during the second half of spring workouts. For a receiver room in desperate need of a motivated, reliable leader with a different "style."

And for a young quarterback who needs someone, more than ever, to help him stabilize a pass game in makeover mold.

Julian Fleming, once an Ohio State Buckeye, is already helping to re-shape his new, home-state Nittany Lions.
Julian Fleming, once an Ohio State Buckeye, is already helping to re-shape his new, home-state Nittany Lions.

Fleming, the senior wideout transfer, officially met the Penn State media for the first time Wednesday evening and proclaimed himself " healthy as can be. This is probably the healthiest offseason I've had so far," he told reporters in State College.

"Shoulders are both good. I got those all fixed up. Been under the (surgical knife) a couple of times with stuff, just having to get this done and bumps and bruises. But right now I'm healthy, and I'm happy about it."

So is, it seems, his new quarterback, Penn State junior Drew Allar − he of the wondrous first-year starting stats against everyone except those three elite opponents who beat him, including Fleming's former Buckeyes.

On Thursday, Allar talked about Fleming, the guy with the locker across from his − the teammate he said he's conversed with daily, and with apparent great effect, during these spring workouts that lead up to the annual Blue-White Game in Beaver Stadium on April 13.

Fleming, of course, earned national recognition as arguably the top receiver prospect in the nation while first picking Ohio State over the Nittany Lions back in 2019. He went on to catch 79 passes over the next four years, often-times frustratingly so, either slowed by injuries, the All-America-types in front of him or both.

No matter that he won't catch his official Penn State pass for nearly another five months.

He's making a significant impact, according to Allar and coach James Franklin.

Penn State football: Drew Allar to Julian Fleming

“Julian’s a great receiver but I think he brings a certain toughness … to that receiver room," Allar said.

“Obviously, receivers want to catch the ball in space, that’s why they come here, to get the ball in space and catch the ball downfield. (But) we always talk about how we have to earn the right to throw the ball down the field and that starts with blocking. Blocking on the perimeter is something most receivers probably don't want to do."

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And yet Fleming, with those two good shoulders, is leading the way when he doesn't have the ball. It's reportedly caught on, from energized big backups Malik McClain and Malick Meiga, to those nimble, speedy wideouts like senior KeAndre Lambert-Smith.

"Julian is a very pro-like guy," Allar said. "Has a very good mentality to him with his work ethic and habits away from the field. Always putting in extra work, I always see him bringing other receivers with him to get extra (pass-catching) work ... extra reps after practice.

“I love being around him."

Fleming's impact cannot be understated for a room that provided little consistency, big-play production or much of any direction in 2023. Even the affable Lambert-Smith, always more enigma than trusted game-changer, appears to have upped his effort this spring, according to Allar and Franklin.

Meanwhile, Allar admits that he's re-shaped his own body (He's a leaer 240 pounds now) and approach.

“I feel like I play my best when I’m loose and free and confident, having fun out there. I think I’ve done a lot better job of that. … I’ve let the more competitive side of me come out this spring," Allar said. "Talking to the offense, being more vocal leader ..."

A possible Fleming Effect?

Well ...

"The guys love him, he’s been awesome as a teammate, he’s been really coachable," Franklin said.

“I don’t want to speak for Julian, but it seems really good in terms of energy, morale and expectations. He’s been a really good addition, and I know he’s earned the coaches’ and players’ trust really quickly.”

Frank Bodani covers Penn State football for the York Daily Record and USA Today Network. Contact him at and follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @YDRPennState.

This article originally appeared on York Daily Record: Drew Allar tells why Penn State football thrives with Julian Fleming