Robert Nkemdiche: The boy who would be king

The boy who would be king (AJC photo)

Robert Nkemdiche: The boy who would be king (AJC photo)

Here are some random items on Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who is a candidate to be the nation’s No. overall 1 college football prospect for 2013. We haven’t written that much about 2013 recruits yet, but Robert is something special. Very special. Here goes:

  • UPDATE: UGA coach Mark Richt called on Thursday about Robert’s older brother, Grayson DB Denzel Nkemdiche, according to Denzel — who signed scholarship papers with Ole Miss on Thursday. “Coach Richt called my coach about me, and wanted to bring me up for a visit,” Denzel told the AJC. “My coach told him thanks for calling, but that I had already decided to go with Ole Miss. It was too late.” Denzel said he would’ve taken an official visit to UGA had the Bulldogs scheduled it for earlier, or within the last couple of weeks.  The last time Denzel spoke directly to UGA’s coaches, he said he was invited to take a recruiting trip on Tuesday, May 31 — which is the same day he was scheduled to report to Ole Miss for the summer school session. Denzel said he didn’t have any regrets about going ahead and signing with Ole Miss. “They made it clear from the beginning that they wanted to sign me, and really recruited me hard,” Denzel said. Thursday was a big day for Denzel because he said he learned he met NCAA college entrance requirements. He plans to report to Ole Miss on Wednesday, (June 1). Why is this significant? Denzel and Robert wish to play together on the same college football team, and Denzel said that also the wish of their mother — although Robert hasn’t ruled out exploring other options. There’s that rumor that won’t go away about how Robert has already “secretly committed” to Alabama (go here for full story). Denzel said Robert has already agreed to take one of his five official visits as a senior to Ole Miss, allowing his older brother to be his recruiting host.

    Denzel Nkemdiche signs with Ole Miss over UGA and Miami (Photo by Hunter Schuessler)

    Denzel Nkemdiche signs with Ole Miss over UGA and Miami (Photo by Hunter Schuessler)

  • One more note about Denzel: He signed scholarship papers with Ole Miss but not a letter of intent because the LOI period has expired. In other words, Ole Miss is tied to Denzel, but Denzel is a “free agent” until he attends his first day of college classes. Would Denzel consider making a quick trip to UGA before Tuesday? “No sir,” Denzel said. “Maybe if it had been last week or planned out earlier this week. But I’m going to Ole Miss now. That’s my school, and I’m really excited about going there.” Thursday was also a big day for Denzel because he said he learned that he met NCAA college entrance requirements. Denzel was a late qualifier and will play DB in college. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said, “Denzel helps our numbers in the defensive backfield immensely. He is physical and very fast. He is a blitzer who tackles fundamentally sound, and most importantly, he finds the football. With his versatility, he provides a lot of options.”
  • Who “discovered” Robert? Grayson coach Mickey Conn said “Big Rob” first caught his attention when he was in middle school. “When I saw him in the eighth grade, he would return kickoffs and take them all the way back. Just like now, he was the biggest kid on the field. It was unbelievable. He was that big, that athletic and that fast. He’s just always been that way.”
  • Nkemdiche hasn’t got caught up in all the hoopla surrounding his recruiting fame — at least not yet. “What is a 5 star?” Nkemdiche asked a reporter. “I mean, I know about a player ranking. But what’s a 5 star? It doesn’t really matter. I just go out there and play football.”
  • You may never see Nkemdiche working out at a combine or college camp again. He suffered a “hip sprain” at the April Nike camp in Athens, and missed all of his spring football practices at Grayson. Nkemdiche is undergoing rehab and projects to return to full strength in mid-June. Said Conn, “We’ve got to keep him away from these combines. We all know what Robert can do. We have to remember that Rob is a kid. Going to these things is fun for the kids, and that’s why he did it. But when everybody is calling you out … ‘Hey, I want to try him, I want to try him, I want to try him’ … it can get carried away. He was getting rep after rep after rep after rep after rep after rep after rep — and that’s how he hurt himself. Hopefully we can get him healed up and back out there ready to go.” Robert was devastated by the injury. “It’s disappointing, very disappointing. I wanted to be out there, working hard with my teammates to try to win a state championship. Sitting out is no fun.”
  • One noted recruiting analyst said this after watching Robert at Nike: “His only weakness is that he’s too good, too soon.”
  • Which colleges are Robert’s favorites? He has 20+ offers, with Alabama, LSU, UGA, Oregon, Florida and Ole Miss as his super duper early leaders. (And yes, I believe Robert could join this year’s incoming college freshmen and compete with the best of them)

    Robert Nkemdiche: The boy who would be king

    Robert Nkemdiche: The boy who would be king

  • Some may be ready to enter Robert’s name into the next NFL Draft, but his coach said Robert has plenty to learn about high school football. Said Conn, “He’s a great athlete with a lot of ability but there’s a lot of good coaches and good players out there that know how to find your weaknesses and attack them. We hated that he missed spring practice because he missed the opportunity to work on some things to make him a better player.”
  • If you see a bunch of big guys that look like football players and you’re not sure which one is Robert, you’ll remember him after shaking hands. Robert earned quite the reputation at Nike for nearly breaking everyone’s hand at Nike camp. He almost did it again to a reporter last week. “Oh, sorry about that,” Robert said with a laugh.
  • Robert projects to play DE or OLB at the next level, and he said he’s open to playing tailback in college. He runs the ball on offense at Grayson so why not? Imagine trying to tackle someone 6-foot-5 and 263 pounds. “It doesn’t matter; wherever they want me to play, I will play,” Nkemdiche said.

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

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87 comments Add your comment

B.G

May 26th, 2011
7:18 pm

FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bama Ben

May 26th, 2011
7:22 pm

Robert, thanks for committing to Coach Saban last fall. We look forward to having you. Roll Tide!

Perk

May 26th, 2011
7:22 pm

Denzel is a player – flat out. Ole Miss got him because he can and will start right away. Everybody says he is a great kid and a leader. UGA missed out on this one. Good Luck to you.

Zeke

May 26th, 2011
7:23 pm

Richt is not fooling anyone. He obviously offered Denzel way too late so that he could get in with Robert. That is pretty low.

ATL

May 26th, 2011
7:25 pm

Robert, make that decisoin to remain in State, UGA is perfect fit for u.

B.G

May 26th, 2011
7:35 pm

@ Michael do u think UGA still has a good chance of signing RN even if his brother sticks with Ole Miss? Also do you think UGA will pull a mircale off and make DN switch his commit to Ole Miss and sign with UGA?

Michael Carvell

May 26th, 2011
7:37 pm

@BG, Georgia is selling Robert on the idea of playing 40 miles from home where his friends and family can watch him play on a weekly basis, along with being near his excellent support group he has formed in the Grayson area. Georgia has a lot of ground to make up with Robert, but they have two years to do it.

Worm

May 26th, 2011
7:41 pm

Could we PLEASE concentrate on 2012 recruits and not be enamored with 2013…I know he’s a great player, but he can’t sign with anyone next year..

Better Dawgs!

May 26th, 2011
7:42 pm

Dogs will be competing for the SEC when he commits. We have nothing to worry about with regards to the silent. Door is wide open, he is a junior in HS right now.

Rip Van Winkle

May 26th, 2011
8:32 pm

Richt was asleep at the wheel again. Please McGarity Fire this 3 million dollar clown!

Georgia Grad

May 26th, 2011
8:50 pm

@BG DN is no longer an Ole Miss commit, according to Carvell he signed with Ole Miss on Wednesday. Hard to understand why Georgia wasn’t on top of the situation because by many accounts he was eager to be a Dawg.

Michael Carvell

May 26th, 2011
8:58 pm

@Georgia Grad, thanks for your comment. Let me clarify. Denzel did sign with Ole Miss but it was scholarship papers. He could not sign a letter of intent with Ole Miss because the LOI period has expired. Bottom line: Ole Miss is connected to Denzel but Denzel is still a “free agent” until he attends his first day of summer classes at Ole Miss, which could happen as early as June 1. Now there will be speculation that Denzel will make a quick trip to UGA within the next few days, but Denzel said Thursday night that it’s not happening.

Dawg Fan in Grayson

May 26th, 2011
9:06 pm

Robert has not committed to anyone. The chances of him going to Ole Miss are very slim. If Richt is still the HC at UGA in 2013 UGA will be a major player for Robert. There is no doubt he likes Saban, but he really likes Richt as well. UGA was the first to offer him.

Well

May 26th, 2011
9:44 pm

@Georgia Grad, his bro will see immediate playing time at Ole Mis while would have a hard time cracking the lineup at UGA the next couple of years. They can’t sign every kid that plays football in Ga.

Special K

May 26th, 2011
9:46 pm

Crimson Tide.

Bear

May 26th, 2011
10:03 pm

Conn’s not letting him go to camps to keep him in the Tide’s fold. Simple as that. Doesn’t want to let his guy go anywhere other than his school. Been at it a while.

Michael Carvell

May 26th, 2011
10:34 pm

@Bear, imho I do think Alabama is the school to beat with Robert. I think they have a big, big lead

4 legs and a tail

May 26th, 2011
10:35 pm

One has to wonder, even privately that something is amiss in the UGA recruiting program. There may or may not be, but from the outside looking in it just seems like the coaching transistions from last year, to this the ones this past year are somehow causing some minor glitches in the process.
As an outsider, I am probably way off base, but perception does mean a great deal. And if you follow college football like I do, the entire recruiting process has changed dramatically the last 5 years. We have seen kids as early as the 8th or 9th grade making commitments, to players attempting to assure themselves a spot on a team prior to “their” team filling up available scholarships. There is always the one or two players that schools will hold scholarships for (Crowell, Clowney etc) until they are ready. But more and more that has become the exception than the rule.

I think UGA is in a precarious situation, they need to win and win early, middle and late in 2011. The state of Georgia has never been as fertile when it comes to high school players as it is today. We are seeing more and more teams come to the state and grab players who in the past have had “Georgia on My Mind”, but now see the other schools has viable and strong options.

I have no doubt that Mark Richt can recruit, but there seems to be some sort of disconnect between the current staff and the some of the players who would usually fall in step to be Georgia Bulldogs.
Is it real or percieved? Who knows! It is early but the way recruiting has changed it is not so early any more.

gamecocks sec east champs

May 26th, 2011
10:38 pm

bear u a bear?

Every instate player doesnt have to sign with uga. Richt will be looking for another gig after this season.

BSU 41 Uga 21
SC 35 Uga 14

five star

May 26th, 2011
11:12 pm

get the elf over it…
these are kids who will not make or break any institution they wish to attend.

Michael Carvell

May 26th, 2011
11:13 pm

@five star, thanks for your post and I think either brother has the opportunity to make an instant impact in college

OtisforUGA

May 27th, 2011
12:51 am

RN, DN?? who cares!!!!!!!!!! If they want to be a DAWG we welcome them– If not F&%K them! I want players/athletes who are born and bred to fight for the DAWG NATION! AU, AL, LSU, Ole Miss(ha,ha-wtf is that?) Lets recruit heart and talent not just ” percieved talent” ie Daveid Green and David Pollack- arguably two of the best we ever had!

TampaDawg

May 27th, 2011
1:02 am

I see we have morons on here, anyone who thinks South Carolina will score 35 points on UGA this year is an idiot, they scored 17 last year in year one of the 3-4 def and without a true NT. UGAs def will be much better this year and now your def gets to have fun dealing with our freshman sensation Crowell. Plus Garcia may not even play, so I guess your back qb is gonna put up 35 points. hmm how interesting

OtisforUGA

May 27th, 2011
1:15 am

T-Dawg– I want Garcia to play so the yard birds dont have any excuses!

GO DAWGS!

Rammer-jammer Satan

May 27th, 2011
1:16 am

I want you bad. We have unlimited scholarships to give year-after-year-after-year. My dirty little secret (LOL): Joining us is basically a year-to-year tryout. If you don’t live up to the hype then forget it. You are out of here!

And there are always more players signed than there is room. Medical-hardships are a way of life around here. Doesn’t matter if it is a small tweak to the knee or a sprained ankle. If you can’t make my two deep roster then you are out-of-here!

OtisforUGA

May 27th, 2011
1:19 am

rj satan–wtf planet are u on?

DogLoverUGAmuttHater

May 27th, 2011
3:53 am

OtisforUGA
What will UGAs excuse be this year to start the WAIT TIL NEXT YEAR CHANT?

DogLoverUGAmuttHater

May 27th, 2011
3:56 am

TampaMUTT
Freshman Sensation? Crowell? I don’t think he has even played a down against College Players. How do you make that claim? I get it you have been inhaling the fumes coming out of Big Bad Bruce’s aka Uga VIII’s dead butt.

name

May 27th, 2011
5:06 am

Not as long as Helen Hunt is still coach at UGA wasting talent like there’s no tomorrow.

Brown Dog

May 27th, 2011
7:03 am

Hmmm. I see this thread is off to a thoughtful start. Good luck to Robert and a hearty Roll Tide to everyone.

Football_365

May 27th, 2011
8:13 am

The media builds these kids up to sit back and watch them fall. Why is the ajc writing articles about a kid who is a soph in high school? Mark my words the ajc is going push this kid down our throats over the next two yrs, and the perception is going to go from hardworking young man, to blue chip prospect then he is going to be labled as a prima donna, lazy, etc. every top notch athlete gets that treatment on here. For example look at how people who know nothing about I. Crowell talk bad about him. You can look at any old article about I.C and you wont find any quote from him that would lead you to believe that he is arrogant, a prima donna, or lazy. Everything I have seen says that he is ready to work and earn his spot. I hope im wrong but the ajc has a history of turning a good kid into public enemy #1.

GeoffDawg

May 27th, 2011
8:26 am

I remember when Charles Grant played some tailback. Stick to DE.

Rhall55

May 27th, 2011
8:33 am

CMR called Thursday?? This conversation should have happened 1-2 weeks ago; these last minute attempts are becoming old news (too many too often; UGA should not be losing these battles); if CMR does not change his sense of urgency and also take in more JUCO’s, the future depth chart will be in danger!!! But again, he must win!!! The first (2) games of the year are critical; sorry, I am repeating myself from previous comments, but I am frustrated from the same results!!! Cudos for last year’s class but time to add to that class!!!

Zombiewoof

May 27th, 2011
8:39 am

tell me again

May 27th, 2011
8:58 am

This kid wasn’t even qualified academically….until just before UGA offered. Why should Richt be offering kids that won’t even make the grade??? As for his brother – just another media frenzy over a “might be” player. Some of you goofs on this blog are acting like this kid is a program maker or breaker – such is never the case. TEAMS win championships – not individuals. He might be good – so what? There are LOTS of good players out there – this kid is just an excuse for the media to have something to write about. No big deal at all.

sogadog

May 27th, 2011
9:10 am

It seems inconsistent to say the Nkemdiche brothers want to play at the school (because Mama wants them to) yet Denzel signs with Ole Miss and Robert’s leader or secret committment is Alabama.

It sounds like Denzel could be trouble since he barely qualified and he picked Ole Miss without even visiting or considering UGA or any other school. A person with good judgment will look at all of his or her options and make a calculated decision. In the long run the Dawgs may be better off without Denzel.

I still dont understand why UGA is waiting until the last minute to offer a lot of these 2012 recruits. I hope they get on the ball recruiting and McLendon earns that big paycheck.

JB

May 27th, 2011
9:12 am

Lot’s of changes going to happen in Athens before 2013. Some will like it, some won’t. The time is up. We start playing like Georgia again ( winning 10 games or so and have a chance with anyone we go up against is my definition of playing like Georgia again) or we find someone who can.

Football_365

May 27th, 2011
9:13 am

@tell me again I totally agree and the minute he doesnt live up to the high standards and hype the “MEDIA” has set for him he is going to be completly trashed on here!

MikeP

May 27th, 2011
9:22 am

About that secret commit to bammer: Ask any fan of theirs and every great prospect in the nation is a secret commit to bammer. Nothing to pay any attention to, that’s just how the Updykes roll.

RxDawg

May 27th, 2011
10:11 am

So now the question is, does UGA even waste time trying to recruit Robert? If playing in college with his brother is so important to him, do the UGA coaches try to target other defensive lineman to recruit? Because I assure you, no matter what the rankings say, there will be more than one defensive lineman worth his salt in 2013.

EW

May 27th, 2011
10:13 am

For all the reporting on it the recruiting process is still not transparent. There are a lot of ppl out there that claim that UGA is “missing” out on big recruits. Those are the same ppl who want to crucify programs that oversign or “grayshirt” players. You can’t have it both ways…either you cast a big net and tell some white lies (spurrier and saban) OR you take the calculated, methodical approach and when you give a kid your word it’s your word (Richt)….So while we may not get EVERY recruit like you crazed Dawg fans think we should, we do a lot of research and go hard after the guys we have targeted. I would take the calculated, stick to your word approach over the others anyday.

DawginLex

May 27th, 2011
10:15 am

UGA 27
BSU 17

UGA 17
SC 14

Someone want to ask Chip Towers why multiple comments from TROLLS who change their blog handle are more acceptable than comments actually discussing UGA sports from a loyal alum???

T-Dawg

May 27th, 2011
10:26 am

I’m with you, Otis (in the Mayberry jail?)!

Bama in Atlanta

May 27th, 2011
10:30 am

While I would love to have both brothers at Bama, it’s obvioulsy too late for Denzel and I hope he has a great college career. I’m not a big believer in “secret commitments” so I won’t get too excited until he actually declares but I do like what I hear regarding his potential. Overall, I think we’re gettting a little ahead of ourselves otherwise next thing you know we will be talking about some “up and coming middle school phenom”!

NCin2013

May 27th, 2011
10:43 am

For those of you talking about DN earning immediate playing time at Ole Miss, He has 120 other athletes to compete against. How is it ok for a school like Ole Miss to sign 121 players over a 4 year period. That just means that they have lost or cut or run off 36 players over that period. If that many of their players are leaving due to academics than maybe thats a problem that should be looked into thoroughly. Otherwise, NCAA needs to look at the attrition because its not natural

It Ain't Rocket Science

May 27th, 2011
10:45 am

I don’t think Bama. has the inside track or that he is a secret commit. What I do think, is he will be greatly influenced in how his brother and Miss. do this year. Right now, he is just a young kid, enjoying his youth, and trying to make everybody happy. If the SEC goes with the recommendations of Slive about recruiting changes, the whole playing field might just be a little different in recruiting. Don’t know if those changes will come about, since the majority of the schools in the SEC West, like the status quo. Gonna have to wait and see though.

1eyedJack

May 27th, 2011
10:45 am

With the possible exceptions of Dillon Lee and Kenyan Drake has Georgia really lost out on any in-state recruits they really were targeting? Not yet I don’t think.

Michael Carvell

May 27th, 2011
10:47 am

@1eyed, there are more than Lee and Drake (Eligwe, Kirby, Taylor, Holsey, etc); with that said, Georgia (or Georgia Tech, too) can’t sign them all in Georgia with around 185-190 D1 prospects per year produced by this state

GT Hulk

May 27th, 2011
11:23 am

Does GT and PJ not even attempt to recruit these kids unless Troy, Furman or Wofford show interest????

Real Problem

May 27th, 2011
12:00 pm

Herein lies the Real Problem….
Kid is impressed with Bama, Bama has the players to make a run at a National Championship and the next NFL draft is going to be the Alabama show. Bama could have 7 or 8 kids go in the first two rounds. These high school blue chip players want to play in the NFL and Saban has done an unreal job of getting kids to the next level.
Now IF,IF, IF LSU can knock off Bama and Georgia wins the SEC East, then maybe Georgia will have a chance to land what might be the best recruit in America.