Robert Nkemdiche: The circus begins for the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect

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With signing day over for the state’s seniors, the most prolific recruiting sweepstakes that Georgia may ever see has officially kicked off with Robert Nkemdiche.

He’s the 6-foot-5, 270-pound junior DE from Grayson High School who is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2013 by several recruiting services — the first Georgia player to ever earn the distinction.

How good is Nkemdiche? He is definitely a better prospect than any of the nearly 200 Georgia seniors that signed last week, and was probably better as a sophomore than any kid that signed last year. His high school coach played on Alabama’s 1992 national championship team that was stocked with future NFL stars and says Robert is more talented. Lowndes coach Randy McPherson pretty much summed it up with this scouting report: “Once-in-a-generation player.”

With the seniors out of the way, the spotlight will now focus on Nkemdiche, if it hadn’t been there already.

“Well, it has been pretty crazy since Robert was a sophomore,” Grayson coach Mickey Conn told the AJC. “I can’t imagine it being crazier than it already has been. So, you know, we’ll be prepared. We might have some touchdown club people out there directing traffic for spring practice if we need to do that.”

Robert Nkdemiche, the nation's No. 1-ranked overall prospect for 2013 (AJC photo)

Robert Nkdemiche, the nation's No. 1-ranked overall prospect for 2013 (AJC photo)

Spring practice figures to be a zoo if it’s anything like it has been at the Gwinnett County powerhouse over the last few weeks. Alabama’s Nick Saban, UGA’s Mark Richt, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Tennessee’s Derek Dooley, along with too many assistant coaches to mention, have stopped by Grayson to catch of a glimpse of “the boy who would be king.”

Nkemdiche is already living a fishbowl-like existence. After Grayson games last season, the junior celebrity would stay on the field for 45 minutes or longer for hugs, handshakes, to sign autographs, smile for Facebook photos and do media interviews. His coach is trying to use the unprecedented publicity for the benefit of the overall program.

“This is exciting for Robert but our other kids as well because it gives them an opportunity to showcase their talents to college coaches,” Conn said. “We’ve got a talented bunch. We’re more than Robert Nkemdiche. We’ve got a lot of players. We’ve got 10 back on defense, and every one of them should get an offer because they are all very good.”

Back of Nkemdiche: What’s the latest with colleges? It has roughly been the same 5-6 all along – Alabama, LSU, UGA, Southern Cal, Oregon and Florida. There are never-ending rumors that he committed to Alabama last year and will sign with the Crimson Tide next year. Nkemdiche, who often wears Alabama gear to school, has denied the rumors.

An emerging school with Robert is Ole Miss – and it makes a lot of sense. That’s where his older brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, is a freshman DB after both qualifying and signing late with the Rebels last summer. Denzel has always said has always said that it’s his parents’ wish that the boys played on the same college team. Denzel initially wanted to go to UGA after qualifying but the Bulldogs were too late to get seriously involved.

UGA, located only 40 miles east of Grayson, is making an effort to be a serious contender in the sweepstakes for Nkemdiche. “Mark Richt is doing a great job of recruiting Robert,” Conn said. “He calls me all the time about Robert. He has been here, along with [defensive coordinator] Todd Grantham. Georgia is doing an excellent job recruiting Robert. They are really working hard.”

UGA’s biggest advantage with Nkemdiche is a non-football factor — its proximity to Grayson. It would allow Nkemdiche to both go off to college yet remain close to his strong support group in the Grayson area.

While Alabama appears to be the school to beat, it may be a while before Nkemdiche goes public with any decision. Like many elite prospects, Nkemdiche wants to go through the normal recruiting process and take some recruiting trips after his senior season before picking his destination.

“I think Robert will wait until after his senior season of football,” Conn said. “I think he wants to see what everybody will offer. Right now with recruiting, he’s trying to put it all on the backburner to focus on his academics and preparing for his senior year. He, like the rest of the kids, wants to win another state championship. That’s what Robert is thinking about.”

Robert Nkemdiche, DE, 6-5, 270, Grayson (Undecided. First-ever No. 1 overall prospect in nation from state of Georgia. “Once in a generation” player.)
Montravius Adams, DT, 6-4, 290, Dooly County (Undecided. Rocketed to recruiting stardom after junior all-star game. Nick Saban, Gene Chizik and Derek Dooley showed up at his school on the same day last month. Clemson is early leader)
Reuben Foster, LB, 6-2, 232, Troup (Comitted to Alabama. Called “the next Tray Blackmon”)
Carlos Burse, WR, 6-3, 208, Alpharetta (Undecided. Basketball-turned-football star and is good enough to play high D1 in both)
Carl Lawson, DE, 6-3, 245, Milton (Undecided. Compared to “David Pollack out of high school” by one scout. May be a little undersized but makes up for it with high-octane motor. Most recent offer was Alabama)
Shamire Devine, OT, 6-7, 341, Tri-Cities (Undecided. Very, very raw but passes all the eyeball tests, witty personality and unlimited potential in football)
Alvin Kamara, RB-WR, 5-10, 190, Norcross (Undecided. Fastest player in pads at junior all-star game. It was 0-60 mph in a few steps. Alabama and UGA most recent offers)
Tray Matthews, DB, 6-2, 205, Newnan (Committed to UGA. Will be interesting to see if growth spurt will force move to LB in college. Hey, it worked well for his former high school teammate, UGA S-turned-LB Alex Ogletree, who is top NFL prospect)
Kelsey Griffin, DT, 6-2, 290, Mill Creek (Undecided. If he were a couple of inches taller, he’d be a candidate for top 50 in the country. Still might be)
Juwaan Williams, ATH, 6-1, 185, Tucker (State championship QB will play WR or DB in college, along with a little Wildcat QB)

10 GEORGIA JUNIORS TO WATCH

  1. Robert Nkemdiche, DE, 6-5, 270, Grayson (Undecided. First-ever No. 1 overall prospect in nation from state of Georgia. “Once in a generation” player.)
  2. Montravius Adams, DT, 6-4, 290, Dooly County (Undecided. Rocketed to recruiting stardom after junior all-star game. Nick Saban, Gene Chizik and Derek Dooley showed up at his school on the same day last month. Clemson is early leader)
  3. Reuben Foster, LB, 6-2, 232, Troup (Committed to Alabama. Called “the next Tray Blackmon”)
  4. Shamire Devine, OT, 6-7, 341, Tri-Cities (Undecided. Very, very raw but passes all the eyeball tests, unlimited potential in football. Witty personality)
  5. Kelsey Griffin, DT, 6-2, 290, Mill Creek (Undecided. If he were a couple of inches taller, he’d be a candidate for top 50 in the country. Still might be)
  6. Carl Lawson, DE, 6-3, 245, Milton (Undecided. Compared to “David Pollack out of high school” by one scout. May be a little undersized but makes up for it with high-octane motor. Nobody had a better week at junior all-star game. Most recent offer was Alabama)
  7. Tray Matthews, DB, 6-2, 205, Newnan (Committed to UGA. Will be interesting to see if growth spurt will force move to LB in college. Hey, it worked well for his former high school teammate, UGA S-turned-LB Alec Ogletree, who is top NFL prospect)
  8. Alvin Kamara, RB-WR, 5-10, 190, Norcross (Undecided. Fastest player in pads at junior all-star game. It was 0-60 mph in a few steps. Alabama and UGA most recent offers)
  9. Carlos Burse, WR, 6-3, 208, Alpharetta (Undecided. Basketball-turned-football star and is good enough to play high D1 in both. Matched up well vs. Tray Matthews in all-star game. Big WR who is jaw-dropping with how fluidly he moves — like poetry in motion. Florida is leader after recent offer but that could change if Alabama gets involved)
  10. Juwaan Williams, ATH, 6-1, 185, Tucker (Undecided. State championship QB will play WR or DB in college, along with a little Wildcat QB. Actually, Georgia Tech likes him at QB. Played WR in junior all-star game and dominated the opening half)

Note: This is an unofficial list. We’ll have 2013 rankings next month.

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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

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455 comments Add your comment

Randall "Pink" Floyd

February 7th, 2012
2:39 am

12 more months of pretending this kid hasn’t already been delivered to Saban.

b.g

February 7th, 2012
2:42 am

Hope he’s UGA bound!

Crimson Crush

February 7th, 2012
3:27 am

At least you guys have a new article to whine and make delusional post about ;-)

BostonDawg

February 7th, 2012
3:33 am

Sounds like he is Alabama all the way. He is already wearing Bama gear to school. Maybe if we had done a better job of recruiting his brother, we would have had a shot.

Gwinnett Coach

February 7th, 2012
3:33 am

This one is 100% on Coach McClendon. Nkdemiche’s brother wanted to be a Dawg, all but begged for it publicly in articles on Rivals, Scout, AJC and anybody else who would listen. But Coach McClendon took his sweet time. Ole Miss didn’t play games. Now Ole Miss won’t get Robert but Georgia would’ve almost certainly got him if they had locked up Denzel.

7576DAWG

February 7th, 2012
3:34 am

Georgia is losing as many as 12 player’s off the defense after the 2012 season. If the defense kick’s some royal rear end in 2012 and is ranked in the top 5 defensively Grantham should have a great shot at landing Robert.

gbal

February 7th, 2012
4:42 am

See you soon. Clarke County jail

February 7th, 2012
5:08 am

Three freshmen Georgia football players this season have been dismissed from the team by coach Mark Richt for undisclosed violations.

goldwreck

February 7th, 2012
5:13 am

I’d say UGA is 40 miles east of Grayson.

Sportsrealist

February 7th, 2012
5:40 am

Sadly, I think every realistic UGA fan knows he’s eventually Bama bound.

tenn.DAWG

February 7th, 2012
6:03 am

Lets hope after everything that’s happened with Saban in recruiting this year,these players and their parents will think twice about who they sign with.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

February 7th, 2012
6:20 am

Over/Under on how many of these go to Bammer or UF? 7 to high? Richt needs put on watch about locking down the elite talent in state. All the out of state high profile is cute and all but he is the coach at Georgia and needs to hammer these high school coaches.

Paddy

February 7th, 2012
6:29 am

Lowcountry Bulldawg…………Yes 7 is way too high but you are right on in the rest of your post.

ComeOnMan

February 7th, 2012
6:31 am

GA Tech should check out the Marist QB. Fast kid, who is already running the triple option.

DawgLink

February 7th, 2012
6:34 am

Amen Lowcountry.

Lagdawg

February 7th, 2012
6:34 am

While other coaches recruit, UGA coaches take vacations and days off. Richt needs to hire a top level recruiter and OC and that would solve the biggest of the recruitng problem. If the top level talent is in GA., there is no way that UGA should not be the first to offer. Bad recruiting ethics and it showed on Feb. 1. This problem needs to be addressed quickly. I know it’s early, but Bama already has 7 verbals for 2013 and Fla. is right behind them.

Beast from the East

February 7th, 2012
6:40 am

Bryant-Denny

February 7th, 2012
6:55 am

56 Alabama Athletes Earn Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll, Including an SEC-Best 38 Football Players

.

February 7th, 2012
7:03 am

Foster is the best player in the state. Nkdemiche physically matured when he was 15, so it has been like college player in HS (man playing against boys). That disparity levels off once he gets to the next level. Athletic to be sure, but the physical separation will not be nearly as severe when he goes to the SEC, so it will be interesting to see how he responds to competition and the need to use technique vs just being bigger/faster/stronger.

FL Jacket

February 7th, 2012
7:04 am

Bryant-Denny…how many of those were walk-ons?

.

February 7th, 2012
7:05 am

@Bryant-Denny — Does that say more about Bama academics or about the academic achievement of the players who won the honors?

Fleischman in Chi Towns Bed

February 7th, 2012
7:09 am

Done deal. He is 100% ALABAMA bound.

Saint Richt and Man Boobs Grantham need to move on.

News | MrSEC

February 7th, 2012
7:09 am

[...] Get ready for the recruiting circus that is sure to follow 2013 defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville, Ga.2. The top-rated [...]

kreedham

February 7th, 2012
7:11 am

I think the rules should be tightened on contact of these kids. It’s hectic enough with school, family life, girlfriends, etc. Let them have a life.

slydog

February 7th, 2012
7:11 am

The slobbering and the groveling of a teenager will begin…lol. It began Feb. 1, 2012, when Nick Saban started calling juniors for next year’s class and no doubt Robert was called. Let me help y’all out. This kid is going to one of 4 places, in order of precedence: Alabama, Georgia, Auburn (don’t forget about the hiring of BVG), and last, Tennessee (where he will be a star from day one). Furthermore, out of that list of ten players, IF CMR wants to show that they were just “late” for a few folks this year, then 6 out of 10 on that list needs to be gotten by UGA. And it won’t be as hard as one might think. CMR and Garner need to hop on these boys early and stop evaluating so damn long, while offering all these out of state players. Now that Texas and some of the midwest is open, go find us some O-linemen from out there and get the skill guys from here. Simple. Everyone knows that the biggest, strongest linemen come from the midwest, but the south has the more athletic linemen.

Clay

February 7th, 2012
7:13 am

Always recruiting late is going to cost us this kid. We will learn from this I hope and start getting on these kids earlier. Especially if this is the best talent ga has ever seen

.

February 7th, 2012
7:17 am

@slydog — State of GA is loaded w/ OL next year, no need to go out of state. You tell CMR to stop evaluating and offering out of state player and then tell them to go out of state for lineman??? The top OL are in GA and FL next year.

Say Whut

February 7th, 2012
7:22 am

Athens is 40 miles west of Grayson? When did they move it?

Crimson Crush

February 7th, 2012
7:23 am

Nah … I am going to have to agree with slydog on this one … I think the Dawg staff should concentrate on locking down Minnesota and Wisconsin first … and then slowly work their way south over the summer and fall months . If they make it down into Tennessee by Jan 15 everything should work out just fine :-)

Honest

February 7th, 2012
7:23 am

All Bama fans need to light their trailers on fire.

Ryan

February 7th, 2012
7:27 am

WOw doing this for 16 year olds. Wouldn’t be surprised to watch him burn out and flop because of what has been put into his head.

BobDawg

February 7th, 2012
7:32 am

He is one and done so no big deal. He is a beast though. Saw the state Champshps and a man-child…

BobDawg

February 7th, 2012
7:35 am

Slydog, this will be an interesting year as we can take 6+ early enrollees in January since we undersigned this year… Dawgs will be all over the state this year, but face it, some kids want to leave the state, just like Marshall and Gurley did this year for us.

.

February 7th, 2012
7:35 am

@BobDawg – No such thing as “one and done” in CFB, unless you are JUCO. Cannot enter NFL draft until your JR class has completed.

Former bulldwag arrested

February 7th, 2012
7:35 am

Some things never change.

BobDawg

February 7th, 2012
7:35 am

correct, I’m thinking of BBall…

Crimson Crush

February 7th, 2012
7:36 am

He can’t be one and done … not in football Bob … the rules won’t allow it … never mind his own need to develop

BobDawg

February 7th, 2012
7:39 am

BRYANT-DENNY, while that is quite an accomplishment, I don’t think majoring in PE and academic honor roll as a big deal… I just don’t think of Bammy as a college, more of a Technical school majoring in Athletics….

Championships and Scholarships

February 7th, 2012
7:45 am

Where is the Green kid and the Ramsey kid from Camden in this 10 to watch?

Crimson Crush

February 7th, 2012
7:49 am

Yeah Bob … cuz they usually select Rhodes Scholar candidates from all the top “technical” schools LOL

BobDawg

February 7th, 2012
7:50 am

See ya fellas, gotta hit the Links at Brasstown Valley this am….

Brown Dog

February 7th, 2012
8:00 am

Will be interesting to see if the media campaign in Georgia has any effect on where the players go.

Nkemdiche, Foster, McCrary all appear headed to Tuscaloosa. Will that change? Or will more of their peers join them?

Big year for CMR. Otherwise, the Dream Team and the Ring Team may be followed by the Dead Man Walking Team.

Chris

February 7th, 2012
8:06 am

He’s rolling with the tide….He committed awhile back and reaffirmed it to the Bama staff at Junior Day.

Chuck

February 7th, 2012
8:12 am

This is how Saban plays the game, he bcarpet-bombs the area with early offers, they love Bama fir the early offer and commit early, then Saban waits until the 11th hour to take his pick and tells he rest they’ll have to grayshirt, but he sure will save a place for them.

dawgfacedboy

February 7th, 2012
8:12 am

Good to see UGA in the mix for only one of the state’s top 10 prospects.

yellowfever

February 7th, 2012
8:12 am

I heard he was committed to Ga. Tech and was going to go on Good Day Atlanta with his GT hat and ALA. hat and pick ALA.

Bama Fan#2

February 7th, 2012
8:13 am

It will be a sad day next February 2013 when the dawgs
lose the best 3 recruits in the state to Alabama. Folks
LSU fans are mad at Les Miles for the BCS game and
Alabama signing the 2 best players from LA last week!!!
RTR

yellowfever

February 7th, 2012
8:15 am

Hey UGA dont worry about how many top prospects Coach Saban keeps getting cause you guys never play them anyway.

ATL Sports Fan

February 7th, 2012
8:18 am

If my memory is correct Mickey Conn played at Alabama and has been pushing for this kid to go to Alabama all along. Especially when Rodney Garner came by Grayson to meet with Robert and was asked to leave his phone number with Conn and he convienetly forgot to give it to Robert.

7576DAWG

February 7th, 2012
8:27 am

lagdawg
I agree.
McGarity should get involved in our recruiting practices because Georgia missing out or not even being considered by Georgia’s best high school player’s is Mark Richt and Rodney Garner’s fault.I know that Georgia end’s up in the top 10 or close to it every year in recruiting but where CMR and Garner are failing is providing the depth needed to win championship’s. I would like to know if anyone can tell me how many total scholarship’s, knowing that we could have 85 , did Georgia give the last 5 year’s, not counting walk-on’s. I bet you will see a pattern that will show we average 5 or 6 short every year. If we had 6 more three to five star player’s on the team last year maybe Georgia would have been able to play 60 minutes with L.S.U. and a few other team’s where lack of depth was the main reason we lost or won but the score was a lot closer than it should have been. It is obvious that CMR need’s help in solving this problem since we come up short every year and hopefully McGarity will come up with a solution. No one can tell me that another 6 top recruit’s on our team can’t make a huge difference.