DAVIE, Fla. – Choosing from 40-plus offers, it originally looked like Santana Fleming would be picking between SEC and ACC schools. Once tied to multiple P5 programs like Auburn, Louisville, and Mississippi State, the four-star receiver has chosen to take his talents to Western Carolina in the FCS division.
Fleming’s relationship with the WCU staff, their ties to South Florida, and the Catamounts offensive scheme ultimately were the deciding factors in shutting down his commitment.
“The offensive coordinator there (Kade Bell), to me he’s one of the best offensive minds in the game at the D1 level,” Fleming shared. “The relationship he built with me, and just talking the way he can see me playing in this offense. Telling me I can come in right now and compete, and not selling me any dreams.”
Fleming is joining a 2023 class where he will be the sixth commit from the South Florida area.
“They recruit South Florida guys heavily, and the whole coaching staff is from Florida, so I know when I go up there, they’re going to be able to relate to me one on one,” Fleming said. “Playing with Tyger (Taron Dickens) is a great opportunity for me to reconnect with him and go crazy.”
Coming in as likely one of Western Carolina’s highest ever rated commits, the WCU staff made it clear to Fleming that he would still have to come in and put in work early despite the accolades.
“They’re keeping it real with me and not selling me dreams, and that I have to come in and work,” Fleming shared. “They don’t care about the accolades, the All-American, the stars; I’m still gonna have to come in and do what I do. I really feel like it’s a good situation for me.”
“I feel like I’m one of the highest rated commits to go there, so I’m just trying to come in there and make it a good situation for me early instead of going to redshirt at a P5,” Fleming shared. “That’s really what my whole decision was, I’d rather go play and make an impact right away. I love the game too much to not play my first year so that was the most important thing for me.”
This decision is slightly unexpected, as Fleming had long been linked to programs such as Louisville, Mississippi State, and Auburn. With a long-term goal of the NFL in mind, the four-star receiver believes the WCU staff can get him there.
“I really believe that this place can get me to the NFL,” Fleming said. “They had a freshman from down here go up there literally two years ago (Raphel Williams). He was my size, about 5-10 160 pounds; he went up there and was a freshman All-American and an All-Conference player. Coach is telling me now he has all 32 (NFL) teams looking at him to scout him. I’m playing the long-term game rather than just going somewhere just to say I signed P5. I’m looking at the business side of it.”
Fleming intends to sign his NLI during the Early Signing Period.