Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fleming hoping to stick at left tackle for Troy

This story appears in the Thursday print edition of the Dothan Eagle. You can read it on dothaneagle.com HERE.

***DON'T FORGET - Troy's first scrimmage, T-DAY, is Saturday at 2 p.m. 

BY DREW CHAMPLIN
dchamplin@dothaneagle.com

TROY– Jarred Fleming’s versatility helped Troy’s offensive line out in times of need last season, but now the senior is hoping he’s found a place to stay for the Trojans.

Fleming, now at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, is getting the first crack at left tackle, where he’d replace three-year starter and NFL Draft prospect James Brown.

Fleming started some games and split time at right tackle last year with Terrence Jones, and got a start at left guard in the season finale. He’s played or practiced everywhere but center.

“It’s nice just to get a position where I can stick,” Fleming said. “I just want to play, honestly. I’ll play anywhere they want me to play on the field.

“I’ve played everything but center. I finally hope I’ve found a home so I can get pretty good at one position.”

Offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said Fleming has worked hard to get to this point. He came to Troy before the 2010 season from East Central (Miss.) Community College, but had to redshirt that year because he broke his leg.

“He’s played (left tackle) before,” Edenfield said. “He’s gotten work there. We feel like he can do it so we’re going to continue to give him work there. He’s really gotten stronger and had a great offseason, so we’re anxious to see how he progresses.”

Troy coaches liked Fleming’s ability at Louisville (Miss.) High School, but felt he needed to get bigger and stronger to play at the collegiate level. Fleming was only 220 pounds as a senior in high school, and most offensive linemen now play at closer to 300.

“He was only 220 pounds, and it was just hard to sign a 220-pound tackle,” Edenfield said. “He had the opportunity to get his tuition paid for at junior college, and he did that.

“We couldn’t pull the trigger at 220, but after the first year (in junior college), we knew we were going to go on him.”

Fleming developed into the starting left tackle at East Central, but started eating more and put on more weight. After that first year, Fleming was at 250 pounds and Troy coaches came back with the offer. He got up to the 275-280 pound range as a sophomore, and that’s where he is now.

“Troy offered me a grayshirt (delayed enrollment), but I had a scholarship offer to a junior college and I felt like that was the best place for me,” Fleming said. “It ended up, later on, Troy was still there for me, so it worked out pretty good for me.”

Fleming said he learned a lot from Brown and how he went about business as a starting left tackle. Brown also came over from junior college and he didn’t have to gain weight, but just the opposite. Brown dropped down from 355 pounds as a sophomore to 310 as a senior.

“James had the intensity,” Fleming said. “He’s out there to knock somebody on every play. He gave all he had on every play and I’m trying to be the guy that gives everything he had like James Brown did. It’s hard to replace a guy like that, but we’ve got a need for that position and I’m trying to fill it.”

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