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Fleming aims for professional football future

Submitted photo — Arkansas State University football player R.J. Fleming, above, muscles the ball down the field in one of this season’s games.
Submitted photo — Arkansas State University football player R.J. Fleming, above, muscles the ball down the field in one of this season’s games.

JONESBORO, ARK — R.J. Fleming has had what he describes as an “interesting” college football career.

The former Trinity Episcopal Day School star has spent the last four years at Arkansas State University, with a different head coach each year.

“It has been exciting and difficult to deal with,” Fleming said, “I got to experience different offenses and at the same time, I got to meet different people.”

The most difficult part, Fleming said, was feeling like he had to start from scratch every year to prove to the new coaches that he’s there for a reason.

“When a different coach comes in, they have their mind set on a certain thing, because my coach recruited me out of high school and knew my capabilities, so the door was wide open for me,” Fleming said. “Since then, it got crazier with me. I had to prove myself all over again and again.

When their recruits come in, it’s like they have first priority.”

Fleming said his first three years were rough, as he didn’t reach all of his goals. But Fleming said he is proud of his senior year and what he accomplished.

“I had 10 catches for 140 yards, but all 10 catches I put a lot of work in for,” he said. “Most people look at my stats and say, ‘That guy hasn’t played a lot,’ but every catch I got, I earned it with so much hard work. I learned to work hard regardless of any circumstances.”

Fleming said he hopes to participate in Pro Day in March as he has aspirations to play in the NFL, but he said he has one more thing to tend to first.

Arkansas State plays Ball State University in the GoDaddy Bowl on Jan. 5 on ESPN in Mobile, Ala.

“Right now, I’m not even thinking about Pro Day, because (the GoDaddy Bowl) is one more game that I get a another opportunity to impress somebody,” he said.

After playing in a bowl game, Fleming expects to graduate in May with a bachelors degree in finance, but even with a degree, Fleming said his heart is telling him to pursue a professional football career no matter what happens on Pro Day.

“I’m 150 percent committed to football,” Fleming said. “I never want to put my cleats down.”

Fleming said he is grateful to Natchez and the fans in Jonesboro for their support over the years, and he hopes they will continue to pray for him in his journey to play on the professional level.