Robert Nkemdiche: Could Ole Miss pull off recruiting UPSET of century in Georgia?

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.

No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche was so overwhelmed by the attention he got at Ole Miss that he said he felt like "Michael Jackson" (AJC photo)

No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche was so overwhelmed by the attention he got at Ole Miss that he said he felt like "Michael Jackson" (AJC photo)

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.

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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]

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338 comments Add your comment

Dawg Vet

February 28th, 2012
5:05 am

UGA blew it here but it’s no surprise. Not after Coach Richt didn’t even bother showing up to welcome Reuben Foster when he was in Athens last weekend. As a season ticket holder for 23 years, that is about as embarrassing as it gets. Do you think Coach Saban would do something like that? No, he would miss his grandmother’s funeral to greet a FIVE star recruit when he’s on the home turf. Re: Nkemdiche how can UGA not be in the top 5 of a kid who is only 30 minutes away from campus? EMBARRASSING!!!! It’s because our coaches are outworked and outhustled. I like Coach Garner and he did a good job for years but he’s tired and old. We need some new blood at recruiting coordinator. I’d like to see Coach Bobo or Coach Lilly get that job.

RTR Red

February 28th, 2012
5:06 am

That’s too funny. You dawgs finally get some good recruits to visit last week and your HEAD COACH is a no show. I heard Foster and Kamera were very disappointed about that but the puppies weren’t getting either of them anyways. They are both ALL Bama, as is Nkemdiche (he IS a secret commit). Richt can skip all Junior Days. What does it matter? Roll Tide!

7576DAWG

February 28th, 2012
5:23 am

Denzel committed to Mississippi on 8/13/2011. For someone that didn’t even carry a one star rating demanding anything is about as cocky as it gets. Georgia would have eventually come around to increase their chances to land Robert since they ended up having 8 scholarship’s left over that walk on’s got. So the problem was Denzel thinking he was entitled or just plain impatient. If he had waited there is no doubt in my mind he would be a DAWG right now.

Grayson dad

February 28th, 2012
5:25 am

@7576DAWG, do you read the articles before you comment? Denzel Nkemdiche wasn’t ranked by anyone because he didn’t qualify until the final weeks before his graduation. He was a damn fine player if you look at his film and good enough to play in the SEC on his own merits. Grayson’s coaches tried to deliver Denzel to Georgia but they sandbagged. By the time Coach Richt woke up and realized what was going on, Ole Miss had sealed the deal. As a Georgia fan, it was heartbreaking to see because we all knew when Denzel went to Ole Miss, Robert wasn’t going to Georgia. He’s about as 100 percent but not officially committed to Alabama as anybody could be.

MD Dawg

February 28th, 2012
5:56 am

I think Rodney Garner is a great person and a great defensive line coach, but I couldn’t agree more about needing someone else at recruiting coordinator. I’d love for Bobo to step down as offensive coordinator and make him QBs coach/recruiting coordinator but that’s wishful thinking because of Richt’s blind loyalty. I’m fine with Lilly. I’d consider McClendon but if he can’t babysit only 3-4 running backs like last year then RC would overwhelm him. Lakatos is interesting but I don’t think his Yankee accent would go over well with Southern mommas and daddies. Something has got to change, though.

Really?

February 28th, 2012
5:58 am

We didnt pursue the brother of the best player to ever come out of our state? Richt is always sleeping at the wheel!

baloney

February 28th, 2012
6:06 am

I’d say Rodney Garner (or GarDner) will start showing up at Robert’s church and bumping into family members. It has happened many time before. Rodney will do whatever is necessary to land a kid. Heck CMR has even been known to commit a secondary violation (or 2 or 3…..) knowing the penalty is nothing. Stay tuned on this one.

Dewnsav

February 28th, 2012
6:09 am

Book it, bank it, bet the house on it, RTR Red has spoken…CMR needs to move on…all great players are ALL Bama…we’ll see in 11 months…I’m looking for a great 2013 class…Go Dogs

tenn.DAWG

February 28th, 2012
6:15 am

This and all the other debacles of late prove that Garners lackadaisical pursuit of instate talent is wearing thin.When your’re not getting the best players to come to the flagship university something is bad wrong.

red&black

February 28th, 2012
6:17 am

So we don’t get him. He’s a good player (but everybody is good at this level or they wouldn’t be on scholarship), but he won’t find it as easy in the SEC as he does at the high school level. So let’s move on. If he comes to UGA, fine. If not, well let’s keep looking. Foster appears to be a publicity hound. Remember the Tide and Tigers (LSU) and others won’t always be up. Just look at Florida post Meyer, Spurrier. Sooner or later Saban, Miles, etc., will leave for greener pastures. I’ve been around long enough to realize this. Let the good times roll.

phildo

February 28th, 2012
6:20 am

Coach Conn-man will deliver Robert to the Tide.

Saban's Statue

February 28th, 2012
6:33 am

How can Georgia fans be upset with Nkemdiche about not being in his top 5 when …. …………. Reuben Foster actually makes the effort to visit Georgia and gets blown off by St. Richt? Is that “the Georgia way” of recruiting? What a disaster in Athens, starting at the top LOLOLOLOL

slydog

February 28th, 2012
6:36 am

@Dawg Vet

John Lily or Bobo? Heck no. Maybe Lily, because he seems to be the only other coach besides Grantham who actually “knows” what he’s doing, to a certain extent (look at the special teams stats). I have a new word, and many of the CMR faithful will be saying the same thing in about two years or less, even after the contract extension: Regime Change. Yes, folks, coaches do get fired or put on a hot seat when you lose certain players to other schools because of bad recruiting strategy. This “come to camp first for evaluation” scheme is old, outdated, and CMR/Garner need to adapt to the changes, especially social media. Just watch the players play. These players (in almost every sport) are coming more prepared than ever before. I mean, does Coach Garner really need to see that (4.4) speed in person? Just go to the school and pull out a stop watch after class is over.

jddawg37

February 28th, 2012
7:09 am

Leave it to the AJC to do UGA’s recruiting! If it were up to the writers at AJC, the Dawgs would recruit about 7 DE out of the state per year, simply because they are good. Hope they can punt, pass, and catch because, i am not sure where you are watching your football, but where I watch mine, there are more than 11 DE’s on the field. Figure it out – or quit trying to act like you do.

Mountain Dawg

February 28th, 2012
7:10 am

“The best player to ever come out of our state?” REALLY?
I don’t think so.

Bulldog Proud

February 28th, 2012
7:13 am

Just wondering, who was the #1 player in the country Herschel’s senior year?

Michael Carvell

February 28th, 2012
7:16 am

@Mountain Dawg, rankings are only opinions but Nkemdiche is the first No. 1 overall high school football prospect in the USA from the state of Georgia.

@Bulldog Proud, I don’t think they did national recruiting rankings when Herschel played at Johnson County HS. He would’ve been a No. 1 candidate surely.

ole dawg

February 28th, 2012
7:19 am

Kid has a lot of potential… which means he hasn’t done anything. Had the brother took care of his grades in HS perhaps he could have gotten in at UGA. Parents must have been asleep at the wheel on this one.

slydog

February 28th, 2012
7:21 am

Ok Carvell, you had to make somebody say it, so here goes: Herschel Walker. Nkemdiche may be the first player rated #1 overall from the state of Georgia, but Walker IS STILL the best player to come out of this state, college, high school, and the pros. Agreed?

footballfan365

February 28th, 2012
7:21 am

Man you people are horrible foster and all of the other recruits knew cmr would not be in athens this past weekend so Richt didnt blow anybody off. I wonder if you people are really as dumb as appear. If The info wasnt from a pay site i would copy and paste the link to the story where foster says he loved his time at uga. Thank goodness for 247sports.COM this site is a joke!

sammiamm

February 28th, 2012
7:25 am

Marlon Brown.

Nuff said.

Really?

February 28th, 2012
7:25 am

So Richt wasnt at our JR Day? What is more important than that?????

Joe

February 28th, 2012
7:27 am

FballFan

Why wasnt Richt at our JR Day?

sammiamm

February 28th, 2012
7:27 am

365 –

I’ll say.

247 has the goods, and less bickering.

Vampire Bill

February 28th, 2012
7:29 am

Some times I REALLY do wonder about the UGA coaching staff and the decisions they make.

slydog

February 28th, 2012
7:29 am

Ok, Mr. Article Writer, you had to make somebody say it , so here goes: Herschel Walker. Nkemdiche is the first player to be rated #1 overall from the state of Georgia, coming out of High School. But Herschel was the best player ever produced by Georgia going “into” college, as you say. And if I’m not mistaken, was arguably the consensus #1 overall recruit the year he signed with Georgia. Just my opinion.

UGA 10-1 versus the nerds

February 28th, 2012
7:31 am

Nkemdiche was a big deal till he ran up against Brandon Kublanow. Kublanow dominated him.

Dap01

February 28th, 2012
7:39 am

Mississippi? Yuk! Alabama – wait till they have cable tv. Don’t trust saban.

Get over it

February 28th, 2012
7:42 am

For you idiots bashing for missing last weekend, he was at a dr’s appointment with his wife which trumps any and all recruits.

GtDawg

February 28th, 2012
7:42 am

Why didn’t he go to Bama, Just sayn. If you look at UGA’s package deals even the bait gets playn time. Zander Ogletree got pt, Quintavious Horrow got pt and Nathan Theus was the #1 rated long snapper in the Country. I dont think Denzel would have made it on the field. This is UGA not Ole Miss. Dawgs gonna be alright.

Blackoutanyone?

February 28th, 2012
7:57 am

Nothing to see here folks…. Bama lock

ignition

February 28th, 2012
7:58 am

Wow, The best rated player in the state of GA ever & UGA is not in his top 5..
UGA really blew it with his brother .
The number 2 ranked player doesn’t even get a head coach visit..
So the two top hs players in the state will both be BAMA bound..
Great job UGA…

Moobs Johnson

February 28th, 2012
8:01 am

LOL’ing @ the Dawg fans crying over one kid. Giving Richt an extension is the best thing… for Georgia rivals. Richt is still living off of his first five years and hasn’t done much since then.

GADawg91

February 28th, 2012
8:03 am

Didn’t UGA try to get Denzel to visit after he finally got qualified but he cancelled and signed with Ole Miss? If he really wanted to go to UGA, which is much better than Ole Miss no matter how you slice it, he should have made the visit and talked to the coaches. A little more patience and he would be in Athens, close to home and looking at a lot of playing time opportunities.

Good luck to both but like all real Dawg fans, hoping little brother shows up in Athens.

DrTR

February 28th, 2012
8:04 am

@GADawg91, no, our great UGA coaches took their sweet time and didn’t invite Denzel to visit UGA until the same day he had to report to Ole Miss. UGA still hadn’t offered by then. So why risk losing an Ole Miss scholarship just to visit UGA? His high school coach wasn’t having any of that nonsense and vetoed it. I would’ve told my son to do the same.

http://blogs.ajc.com/recruiting/2011/05/21/denzel-nkemdiche-commits-to-ole-miss-says-uga-visit-is-unlikely/

SEC FAN

February 28th, 2012
8:04 am

Now that Dawg fans know there is NO way they are going to land Nkemdiche they are bashing him. Typical Dawg fan’s, I hope every recruit is reading this and seeing what kind of fan’s support that garbage heap of a school in Athens. I’m Roll Tide all the way but I will be happy to watch this kid where ever he decides to go. My son’s go to Grayson with Robert and he is a great kid, the family is first class and Denzel is absolutely SEC material. Robert, take your time and choose what’s best for you, enjoy this time in your life you deserve it big man.

It's About Time

February 28th, 2012
8:15 am

Will someboby explain why Richt was not in Athens last weekend?

dewaynedixon

February 28th, 2012
8:23 am

Who cares!!! He’s one player an if he wants to go to UGA he will otherwise good luck. A lot more players to evaluate an other players who want to go to UGA.

John

February 28th, 2012
8:26 am

None of your business why Richt was not in Athens.He has a life and a family, not to mention his priorities are in order.

dawgfacedboy

February 28th, 2012
8:26 am

Great job UGA scouts!!! Nothing like losing the first top player in the country from this state since Herschel and losing him simply because you did not recruit his brother (who made it known he wanted to go to UGA and that it could very easily be a package deal). Great job everybody!!

poopdawg

February 28th, 2012
8:30 am

Sounds like Robert has no interest in UGA but trying to blame the coachs is crazy. Good luck Robert. It is imperative that all UGA recruits really WANT TO BE A DAWG. If not they just trying not to get hurt until the NFL.

RxDawg

February 28th, 2012
8:32 am

I think I’m sick of reading about this guy. I almost wish UGA would just stop putting effort into recruiting him and concentrate on some of the other great talent in the state this year.

Bama Fan#2

February 28th, 2012
8:37 am

If Robert did pick the rebels to play with his brother
and turn down the crimson tide and dawgs that would
be like losing a date with the prom queen to the
biggest nerd Tech student!!! RTR

@Grayson dad

February 28th, 2012
8:39 am

You are really trying to convince us that a diehard Alabama homer, former player of a championship team and current head coach of Grayson “tried” to deliver the brother to UGA? Give me a break dude, and keep on trolling.

Coach

February 28th, 2012
8:47 am

He’s BAMA bound! ROLL TIDE!

PR

February 28th, 2012
8:47 am

RTR Red… get your facts straight. This past weekend was NOT a Jr. Day in Athens. Foster and others simply came up with friends like Wiggins and Matthews to attend the UGA/UF basketball game. CMR didn’t skip out on any official visits or Jr Day. That is actually this weekend… and it sounds like there is a good chance Foster will be back in Athens for the second weekend in a row. UGA probably doesn’t get RN, but that’s ok. Something special is brewing in Athens… with or without him.

Joey

February 28th, 2012
8:51 am

“.He (Richt) has a life and a family, not to mention his priorities are in order.”
****************************************
He also has that little thing called a $10,000 per day salary to be the UGA Head Coach. You would think Mark Richt would make sure he was in town for the Reuben Foster visit. Anybody think this would happen at Bama? Of course not. I bet Nick Saban and Co work 7 days a week, too.

Re Nkemdiche, it’s not like Richt had some schollys laying around, right?

Um, yes. He shoulda saved one of the many given to walk-ons, and personally delivered one to the brother, with a big red bow on it. Saban and Spurrier are already kicking Richt’s butt, now Ole Miss? With a player living 40 miles from Athens?

ATL Sports Fan

February 28th, 2012
8:52 am

For the uninformed, coach richt was with his wife. I do not have all the facts but she hasn’t been in great health, hence the emergency when visiting with Josh Dawson. With that being said do you idiots feel better for running your mouths?

jose

February 28th, 2012
8:52 am

We can’t control where he goes. If he wants to play with his brother so be it. If he doesn”t want to be a dawg I don”t want him.

Terry

February 28th, 2012
8:55 am

This blog keeps eating my comments