â€œJamell is playing really well,â€ Stoops said. â€œYou look at all the breakups, defending balls, playing confidently and playing against good people. It's been exciting for me to see him really enjoy the competition and confidence and attitude he's playing with.â€
Fleming, a junior from Arlington, Texas, leads the country in a category in which defensive backs are graded: 13 passes defended. He missed the Texas game with a sprained ankle but didn't miss a beat when he returned.
â€œWe always knew Jamell was one of the most athletic guys on the team,â€ said linebacker Travis Lewis. â€œHe just needed to get it mentally-wise. He's cleaned up his technique and is really playing well. Our corners are playing big-time for us. We just need the rest of us to follow along.â€
Fleming learned the hard way that there are no shortcuts to success. Because of academic issues, Fleming took 12 hours at Oklahoma City Community College in 2009, forcing him to miss spring workouts.
When he returned to the OU football program that summer, Fleming was more focused in every aspect.
â€œIt taught me to not take things for granted, that you need to work hard,â€ Fleming said. â€œI was so happy to be back.â€
Fleming applied that work ethic from the classroom to football, spending hours watching film.
â€œThat's done a lot for me. It gets me prepared,â€ Fleming said. â€œI watch how a player gets off the ball, the routes he runs, things like that, including what the quarterback is looking at.â€
OU's cornerback play is no longer viewed as a question mark.
â€œBetween Jamell and Demontre (Hurst), and Aaron Colvin coming along, those three guys are playing really well,â€ Venables said. â€œWith the throwing teams we'll see the next few weeks, it's good to have those guys playing at a high level.
â€œIf we can shore up a couple of other positions, we could play outstanding defense.â€