Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who is the first Georgia high school football player to be ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the nation, looked every bit as good as advertised in Grayson’s 25-17 win over Lowndes in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs on Friday night. Watch the video above for highlights of it.
Nkemdiche is a 6-foot-5, 270-pound junior who has Alabama, Florida, LSU, USC and Oregon as his top five, while UGA is “in the mix.” After Friday’s game, Nkemdiche told the AJC he was going to try to get over to UGA for an unofficial visit for Saturday’s Kentucky game but later said he ended up not making trip (Grayson is still in the playoffs). Nevertheless, it was still positive news for UGA, which was once considered a longshot to land Nkemdiche, even though Grayson and Athens are only 35 miles apart. Nkemdiche did visit the Bulldogs last weekend for the Auburn game — his only recruiting trip this fall other than to travel to rumored frontrunner Alabama for the LSU game. It was positive news that he was even thinking about making a return trip to UGA and could be a sign on a budding relationship between the Bulldogs and the 5-star recruit.
Did you get a chance to see Nkemdiche and Lowndes High School LB-WR Josh Clemons on Friday’s TV game?
Let me just say this: Many times a matchup of marquee players does not live up to the hype. However, this one exceeded expectations, if that was possible.
Nkemdiche looked every bit like the nation’s No. 1 prospect, perhaps turning in his best all-around performance on his high school career in the 25-17 win. He rushed for 61 yards and three touchdowns on offense. He got stripped on one play by Clemons (who was at linebacker), and then on the next play trucked Clemons. I don’t think Nkemdiche is going to have many 75-yard touchdown runs, but I also think he’s unstoppable in short-yardage situations.
On the other side of the ball, Lowndes – like every other team that has played Grayson this year – built its game plan around Nkemdiche, sending 2-3 blockers in his direction on every snap. Nkemdiche was ready for it. If he wasn’t making a tackle, he was taking on a wave of blockers to free up his teammates to do so. He finished with three sacks, including a 13-yard loss at the end of the game which sealed the win. There were only a couple of mistakes that were really noticeable – both times he lost containment on his side when the play went to the other side of the field, and by the time it came back on his direction Nkemdiche – out of his relentless pursuit – got caught up inside and let the runner get to the egde.
Overall, it was a masterful performance. Said Lowndes coach Randy McPherson before the game about Nkemdiche: “He’s a once-in-a-generation player.” We agree.
What about Clemons? He’s listed at 6-5 but might be 6-6. Much to my surprise, his biggest impact was at wide receiver – which is the position he is being recruited at by Alabama. He is being scouted as an outside linebacker by his other two finalists, Florida and UGA.
He has a body frame like TJ Stripling and I’m not sure if he will be able to gain enough weight to play linebacker. He looks more like a safety to me – has a nice burst of speed and makes plays. He was sensational at WR, both at shielding the defensive backs from the ball when a pass was thrown in his direction and making clutch catches. He caught a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter and emerged again in the second half to rally Lowndes to within a touchdown.
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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