Could Ole Miss pull off the recruiting upset of the century in the state of the Georgia? Could the Rebels – which just fired and hired coaches – march into Georgia and steal the first-ever player from the state to be ranked as the nation’s No. 1 overall college football prospect?
Ole Miss just might have a chance, according to several published reports.
Let’s start from the beginning: Robert Nkemdiche is a 6-foot-5-, 270-pound defensive end from Grayson High School who is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2013 by several recruiting services. Nkemdiche is the first-ever Georgia player to claim the No. 1 spot. One respected coach called him a “once in a generation player” and I agree.
Robert’s older brother is Denzel Nkemdiche, who is a freshman DB at Ole Miss. Denzel was a late qualifier out of Grayson last year and made it known that he really liked UGA. There were stories about it everywhere. However, Denzel was aggressively pursued and committed with Ole Miss before UGA got seriously involved.
At the time, many speculated that UGA may have blown a golden opportunity to gain inside position on Robert — and, after this past weekend, they may be correct. This past weekend, Robert made a celebrity appearance at Ole Miss’s Junior Day, accompanied by his father.
Denzel has always said it was his parents’ wish that the two brothers play together on the same college football team. His father, Sunny Nkemdiche, validated the idea in an interview with RebelGrove.com’s Neal McCready while they were touring Ole Miss.
“I would like to see them play together [in college],” Sunny said. “In high school, it was fun for me … that would be a pleasure for them to play together.”
Nkemdiche’s father was asked: If they end up playing at different colleges, will that be difficult for the family? “I guess I could make an adjustment but I would like to see them play at the same school,” Sunny said. “[But] I’m flexible … flexible.”
Robert didn’t really have too much specifically to say about Ole Miss football. But he did offer up this gem about playing with his brother, which may have caused the most excitement for Ole Miss fans since Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning played for the Rebels: “We’re close. We’re blood, so there ain’t nothing better than that.”
Read into Robert’s words what you will – and many are reading aplenty. In a Rivals.com mailbag, analysts Keith Niebuhr and Chris Nee were asked: Does Ole Miss actually have a shot with Robert or is he Alabama all the way? Here was part of the response:
Over the weekend, Nkemdiche visited Ole Miss, and according to many accounts (including those from Nkemdiche), it went very well. So well, in fact, that sources tell us some inside the program think the Rebels are now the team to beat based on the vibe they got from Nkemdiche.
Now the Rivals guys did go on to say that they believed rumored frontrunner Alabama “will be difficult to overcome” and we feel the same exact way, if not more. There are never-ending rumors that Nkemdiche is a “secret commitment” to Alabama but he has repeatedly denied it. His high school coach played on Alabama’s 1992 national championship team.
What about UGA? The good news is that Nkemdiche made an unofficial visit a couple of weeks ago to Athens (located around 40 miles away from Grayson) and said it went “good.” However, while Robert liked UGA, he did not include the Bulldogs in his Top 5. And he admitted that he might be feeling a little different at UGA if his brother had ended up there.
“Yes, that would’ve made a difference for me with Georgia,” Robert Nkedmiche told the AJC after visiting UGA. “I never really understood it. Georgia just waited too long and [Denzel] went ahead and signed with Ole Miss. But I like Georgia. It’s fine that my brother is not there. I still like Georgia.”
Signing day is nearly a year away, and a lot can happen. But you have to wonder: If the Nkemdiche family likes Ole Miss that much with the older brother there, how would they be feeling about UGA if Denzel had been more aggressively pursued by the Bulldogs last summer?
RELATED: Kentucky coach Joker Phillips talks about winning the “trust factor” with ex-Alabama RB commit Justin Taylor. Phillips also had some interesting things to say about the SEC’s new over-signing rules [click on story link]
SINCE THE LAST TIME YOU CHECKED YOUR LAPTOP …
IT’S RAINING RECRUITING STORIES
INSTANT AJC RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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