2010 Unwrapped: Cameron Fleming

"It was a long time coming," offensive tackle Cameron Fleming said of his recent decommitment from TCU and commitment to Stanford. "When I started seriously considering [Stanford], I talked to my parents about what's the advantage of there over TCU or anywhere else. As soon as I got in, I hopped on the bandwagon."

The Cardinal first appeared on Cameron Fleming's radar in April, when he visited the Farm for a Junior Day. "Of course the academics were the No. 1 thing, but there's the beauty of the campus, the weather and that a lot of the people are friendly out there," he said. "I can tell the football team is not going to accept the status quo of Stanford; that's not going to set them back. I like Coach Harbaugh a lot; he's a really good coach who's turning Stanford around."

Getting accepted at Stanford was the biggest hurdle in Fleming's recruiting process, and the obstacle that necessitated Fleming committing to Stanford only this past weekend, when he learnt he'd been accepted. (Fleming said TCU and Coach Gary Patterson were understanding.)

In fact, the application process started back in April for Fleming.

"Last year on Junior Day, the staff told me I was eligible for early admission," he said. "They sent me an application, and I worked on it all throughout the summer and finally got it in maybe the first of September. But I just got all of it in this past week. I thought I'd turned everything in, but they needed my counselor's report in order to read my application. They were very quick about reading and accepting me."

Fleming's numbers were likely a major reason for Admissions green-lighting him in a matter of days -- he scored a 1850 on the SAT and sports a 6.3 GPA on a seven-point scale (a first for this grizzled recruiting reporter). Still, Fleming reports he was nervous throughout the application process.

"I know Stanford is an academic powerhouse, so they told me how hard to get in and the admission process was," Fleming said of Stanford's coaches. "They said I had a good chance, but I wasn't completely sure until I found out I was in. The application was a big barrier for me.

"[Getting accepted and committing] was a monumental relief. I don't have to worry about the recruiting process or applying. All I have to do is show up, play football and go to class."

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Just as central as the process by which Stanford (and its admissions department) decided it wanted Fleming is the process by which Fleming decided he wanted to be a Cardinal. And while Fleming did enjoy his Junior Day visit this past April, he reports his decision to go to Stanford wasn't love at first sight.

"Stanford kind of crept up on me," he said. "Then, eventually, I decided: If I get in, I'm going."

Fleming's parents are both in the Army. His mother has been deployed to Kuwait twice, and his father has served two tours in Iraq. While Cameron hopes his parents aren't redeployed – they're both within a year or two of retirement, he says – he knows it's a possibility, and one that factored into his decision to attend an elite school.

"My dad wants me to do better than he did, so we can keep an everlasting chain of progress, and so that wouldn't be with the Army," Cameron said. "My parents felt they've performed my duty to my country for me. They don't want me to follow in their footsteps."

Against a backdrop of an Army life and the sacrifices all Army families must make, a Stanford scholarship stood out all the more clearly to the Fleming family.

"Of course they want to set me up for my future, and if it's not the NFL, then Stanford's best place," Fleming said of his parents. "My dad said, ‘If I were a regular student with a chance to go to Stanford or TCU on a full-ride scholarship, it wouldn't be any competition.' So my parents' contributions were a big factor in my decision-making process."

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Make no mistake though. Despite his biography, despite his decision to attend a top university, Cameron is like any other Division I football recruit: he wants to see the field, and he wants to see it as soon as he can. Fleming, however, may have a better shot at playing time in his first year of college than most true freshmen, especially true freshmen offensive linemen.

"Coach Harbaugh told me that right off the bat I'll have the chance to compete for a starting spot," said Fleming, listed at 6'5" and 280 pounds. "I'm going to prepare mentally and physically, because it's a whole other thing: high school versus college. But they told me I have a chance at a starting spot, and my goal is to get it. If not, then I'll redshirt and hopefully start my redshirt freshman year."

On the field, Fleming tries to take as many defenders out a play as he can.

"Extra blocks," said Fleming of his biggest football strength. "Once I get my block, I'm already looking for another one; it's automatic. I'm trying to hunt for more and more – I want a big plate of blocks.

"I pride myself on having quick feet and quick thoughts -- knowing where the blitz is coming. My run blocking is pretty solid and I'm an aggressive run blocker, but pass blocking is my best trait."

Fleming adds that Coach Harbaugh and his staff saw that aggression on tape.

"I think they like my mentality, my toughness the most," he said. "They talked a lot about the weather and all that: that it doesn't bother me, that Texas is a hot state. The ability to push through, I think they saw that on film and it's a good element in my game."

Jim Harbaugh is actually a man trying to push through adversity right now, fresh off a 28-28 loss at Oregon State. However, Fleming might have made the pain of the Corvallis defeat a little easier for Stanford's head coach to bear.

" When I committed, he said I just made his day. That felt pretty good."

While many recruits switch positions after arriving on campus, Fleming said Stanford's coaches do project him as an offensive tackle, his current position at Houston's Cy-Creek High School. In Houston, Fleming and the Cougars are a force to contend with in 5A Texas football, Texas' largest classification and, as such, arguably the nation's best collection of high school football teams.

"The season's going really well," Fleming said. "We're working hard and have a lot of talent on the team. We're putting it all together and are 5-1 right now, just coming off a tough loss [21-20 to Cypress Woods]. We should make it deep into playoffs, if not all the way."

Finally, no recruiting story would be complete without mention of other schools. In addition to Stanford and TCU, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Mississippi State, Air Force, Baylor and Houston were among the schools to offer Fleming, who adds that he also was receiving Oregon State interest.

Fleming is a three-star prospect to both Scout and Rivals, and Scout.com's No. 70 OT in the nation. However, as he knows, rankings only matter so much.

"TCU has a winning tradition," he said. "I know Stanford's on the rise, but if I was truly worried about rankings and recruiting classes, then I would have gone ahead with TCU because that team is perfect right now."

Still, Fleming insists he's a lock for the Cardinal come National Signing Day – and the four or five years to come.

"I'm absolutely solid to Stanford University," Fleming said. "My parents are ecstatic. My dad's out buying Stanford gear right now. As long as they'll take me, that's where I'm going."

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