Did Ole Miss sign Robert Nkemdiche’s brother last year just to put itself in better position to land the consensus No. 1 college football prospect in the nation for 2013?
There are plenty of rumors and speculation about that topic since it involves Robert Nkemdiche, who told the AJC he will leave on Friday to visit Ole Miss and watch his brother play in this weekend’s spring scrimmage.
Alabama and Ole Miss are considered the frontrunners for the 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive lineman from Grayson High School. Robert also has UGA, Clemson and LSU among his leaders. He is tentatively scheduled to announce on May 18.
Last spring, Denzel Nkemdiche, Robert’s brother, was a late academic qualifier out of Grayson. The speedy defensive back was hotly pursued by Ole Miss in late May, and committed shortly after returning from his official visit with the Rebels. It was a significant transaction because the boys’ parents would like them to play together in college.
Did Ole Miss aggressively chase after Denzel in order to get Robert? That’s what some message boards would have you believe.
“I’ve been scared to comment on anything like that because someone may think I’m talking about recruits,” Ole Miss first-year coach Hugh Freeze told the AJC, referring to NCAA rules that prevent him from publicly commenting on any prospective student-athletes.
The older Nkemdiche was signed by former coach Houston Nutt.
“All I can say is that I’ve been thoroughly impressed with Denzel,” Freeze said. “I wasn’t here when Denzel was signed but I can talk about him since he plays for us. Denzel has had a remarkable spring, and has one of the best attitudes and work ethics on our football team, so I’m thrilled to have him.”
Denzel was always considered a legitimate major-college prospect at Grayson but nowhere near in the same galaxy as his younger brother, who is considered a “once in a generation” prospect. However, Denzel may be on the way to exceeding expectations at Ole Miss. After being redshirted this past season, the older Nkemdiche is battling for a starting position in the Ole Miss secondary.
Back to Robert: Ole Miss has some stiff competition for the younger Nkemediche. Does Freeze think the Rebels can really recruit against anybody for the nation’s elite prospects?
“We’re going to think so … well, our staff is going to refuse to think any other way,” Freeze said. “I was here at Ole Miss [as recruiting coordinator from 2006-07] when we recruited Michael Oher, Dexter McCluster, Mike Wallace, Peria Jerry and Jerrell Powe — all who went in the NFL Draft. If we had thought any different, we would’ve never got those guys. We’re going to refuse to think any other way.”
When Robert visited his brother at Ole Miss in February, he was treated like a rock star. He got a standing ovation from Ole Miss fans when he walked into the baseball stadium for a game. Nkemdiche was overwhelmed by the attention, and said it made him feel like “Michael Jackson.”
On Tuesday, Nkemdiche was announced as the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country by ESPN, an honor which had already been bestowed on him by Rivals, Scout and 247sports.com. He is the first-ever Georgia player to be rated as the country’s top prospect by any of the major recruiting services.
HOT OFF THE PRESSES …
AJC’S INSTANT RECRUITING CLASSICS
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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