By Ted Ryan
Ask the Fleming boys which brother is the better football player for Macalester College and the good-natured ribbing of sibling rivalry comes right to the fore.
“That’s cold,” say Ryan Fleming in response to the question, but he added, “Obviously I’d say me.”
“Well, of course, I’d be inclined to say I am the better football player,” replied Konnor Fleming. All kidding aside, the brothers from Charlotte have no trouble touting each other’s attributes.
“He is probably the most athletic defensive back on our team in general, which means he’s more athletic than me,” said Ryan of Konnor. “He takes over whatever spot he’s at, either cornerback or safety, whatever we need. He’s a very physical type player.
“In all honesty, from everything Ryan has shown, he is the better of the two of us. His level of play has risen an unbelievable amount since he got the Macalester and the amount of plays that he makes on a regular basis far surpasses what I’m doing on the field,” Konnor said. “He’s got an excellent nose for the ball and does an unbelievable job of being an effective linebacker in both the run game as well as the pass game.”
Konnor added, “As a competitive brother, I hate to say it: Ryan may well have surpassed me as the best Fleming football player at Macalester College. That being said, I couldn’t be more proud … and he better watch out. I’ve been working my butt off to stay ahead of him in the weight room and next year it is going to be an on-field translation. He can enjoy the limelight while he has it for now.”
Whether one might be just a bit better player than the other is irrelevant as far as Macalester football is concerned. The former Champlain Valley Union players have immense impact on the Scots’ defense.
Konnor is a 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior defensive back. Ryan is a 6-1, 220-pound inside linebacker.
Konnor is third on the team in all-purpose yards, primarily accumulated on returns of kickoffs, punts and interceptions. That includes a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 44-13 win over Trinity Baptist on Nov. 2. He also has one interception, 24 solo tackles and nine assisted tackles.
Ryan leads the Scots (3-6) in unassisted tackles with 36, assisted tackles with 37 and total tackles with 73. He has one interception, one fumble recovery and two fumbles forced.
“I have kind of a nose for the football,” Ryan said. “I can read a play reasonably quickly. I have a good first step and a good sense for knowing where the ball is going.”
That’s critical since the Macalister defensive scheme is designed for inside linebackers to make many of the plays. “Our scheme is keeping the linebackers untouched,” he said, leaving them to be in position to stop opposing players.
Konnor, who was an internet video sensation for his diving, over-the-fence catch during the Travis Roy wiffle ball tournament at Little Fenway, said the transition from CVU’s relatively young program to Macalester was an education. He had learned of the St. Paul, Minn. college through a coach at a summer camp and once on campus quickly learned, “Even at the Division 3 level, it’s so much faster and harder hitting and more ferocious than anything that I ever experienced in high school.”
Ryan, a defensive linebacker/guard and fullback at CVU, said, “Everything is so much faster on this level.
“It’s also more mental in that you have to know the response and be in the right place at the right time,” said Ryan, who missed Macalester’s game against Augsburg on Nov. 9 with a concussion but expects to play in the season’s finale Nov. 16 against Hamline. “I could get away with being raw at the CVU level. Here it’s much more of a thinking game, which I personally like. Everyone has better athletes and you have to rely as much on your head as your body.”
Konnor is a psychology major with either a minor or a double major in Educational Studies. Away from football, Konnor sings in an a cappella group, has a work study job and is involved in student government and the student athletic advisory committee. Any spare time, he said, is devoted to napping; “I really do love a good nap.”
Ryan is a double major in the classics and chemistry. Whenever he gets a break from studies and football, he competes in intramural sports and partakes in video games, social media and hanging with friends … and, yes, napping.
Contact Ted Ryan at TedRyanVT@aol.com to pass along collegiate student-athletes from the area