NORMAN — Jamell Fleming collected another national award Wednesday. This time it was the Jim Thorpe Association that named the Oklahoma cornerback its national defensive back of the week.
For those counting, it was the third player of the week award the senior received since recording 13 tackles, forcing a fumble and returning it 56 yards for a touchdown in the third-ranked Sooners’ romp over Texas last Saturday.
Fleming isn’t keeping track.
“It’s always good when anybody notices anything I do on the field,” he said, “but I haven’t been keeping up with it.”
He doesn’t have time. Kansas awaits the third-ranked Sooners at 8:15 Saturday night at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan. There’s always another opponent to prepare for and another week to try to get better.
But what Fleming did against the Longhorns and what he’s done over the last two seasons shows he’s a cornerback with an immense repertoire of ability. He’s stuffed run plays and receiver screens. He’s run stride for stride with speedy receivers on go routes. Above all else, he’s tackled like a veteran linebacker.
He’s been a lot more than just a cornerback.
“At the boundary corner you have to be physical,” Fleming said. “It’s kind of like playing outside, outside linebacker. That’s how we scheme up our stuff. That’s what’s expected of me and that’s what I try to do.”
When OU has a cornerback who can do all those things, it opens up a lot for others.
Both Fleming and field cornerback Demontre Hurst have displayed an ability to take away a section of the field. Their success is a big reason the Sooners have been able to attack offenses from all angles this season.
For Hurst, it’s mostly covering deep passes. It’s the nature of the position. Throws are longer to the wide side of the field. Fleming’s side sees more runs right at him. Sometimes, he has to blitz along with covering some the Big 12’s best receivers.