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Cheyney's Fleming Would Rather Hit Than Talk

Terry Toohey, Delaware County Daily Times

November 1, 2013

 THORNBURY — Isaiah Fleming was destined to play football at Cheyney.

“When I was a baby, my mom (Jalpurnia Trader) had a friend who went to Cheyney,” Fleming said. “My mom would bring me up here with her when she visited her friend. I guess it was meant for me to come here.”

Cheyney coach Ken Lockard is glad to have the 5-11, 220-pound junior linebacker on his roster. Fleming is having the kind of season that usually leads to Player of the Year honors.

Fleming leads the PSAC and is tied for 13th in Division II in total tackles (92) and is tied for second nationally in solo stops (59).

Only two players in the NCAA, regardless of division, have more solo tackles than Fleming. Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich is the all-divisions leader with 82 solo stops. Jake Ermiston of Division II Colorado Mesa has 66 solo tackles.

“He’s fast and he understands the game,” Cheyney coach Ken Lockhard said. “He anticipates and gets to the spot and makes the play.”

Being a playmaker is something he learned at an early age from his father, Isaac Flemng.

“He taught me everything,” said Fleming, who will lead the Wolves (0-8 overall, 0-5 PSAC East) against No. 10 West Chester Saturday. “He taught me the fundamentals and had me running hills when I was 7 years old.”

Isaac Fleming also instructed his son on the proper way to tackle.

“I was always fast, but I was afraid to hit,” Isaiah said. “He cured me of that. He had me go against the older guys, who were like 12-14. That’s how I learned how to hit.”

PSAC running backs and receivers have been paying the price for the last three years, something that would not have happened had it not been a case of homesickness.

Fleming said he was supposed to attend the University of Cincinnati following stints at Hargrave Military Academy and Milford Academy, but a staph infection scuttled those plans. Milford wanted him to return for another semester, but the Wilmington (Del.) native and Newark High School graduate was eager to get his college career started so he signed with Division II Wingate University in North Carolina.

He lasted a semester.

“It was too far from home so I started looking for Division II schools closer to Delaware,” Fleming said.

The first school that came to mind was Cheyney.

“West Chester is close to Delaware, too, but I didn’t know much about West Chester,” Fleming said. “I remembered my mom telling me about coming up to Cheyney to visit so I decided to come here.”

It was the perfect fit for him and the Wolves. Fleming has been Cheyney’s leading tackler since the day he stepped on campus. As a freshman, Fleming led the Wolves in both total tackles (92) and solo stops (57). That was more tackles than teammate and fellow linebacker Tim Hume, 2011 PSAC East Defensive Player of the Year. That total grew to 107 overall tackles and 62 solo stops as a sophomore and earned Fleming first-team All-PSAC East honors. Add in his numbers this season and Fleming has been involved in 291 overall tackles and 178 solo stops in 29 career games. That’s an average of 10 tackles and six solo stops per game.

Yet don’t expect to hear Fleming brag about his exploits.

“He’s so quiet,” Lockard said. “He doesn’t say anything.”

Being vocal isn’t his style. Neither is getting involved in all the back and forth that has been going on about this game on social media.

Fleming lets his action do the talking.

“I think you waste too much energy if you talk all the time,” Fleming said. “I’d rather save my energy to hit someone.”