Robert Nkemdiche: The boy who would be king
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)
- 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
- 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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