The No. 1 college football prospect in the nation says his commitment to Clemson is a “done deal” if the Tigers offer one more of his Grayson High School teammates, safety Ryan Carter.
“I am waiting on Clemson to offer Ryan; when that happens, it’s locked … it’s a done deal … it’s over,” Robert Nkemdiche told the AJC.
Nkemdiche says the primary reason he picked Clemson over LSU and Alabama, among others, was because the Tigers already had commitments from his two his Grayson teammates, RB Wayne Gallman and DB David Kamara. Also, earlier this week, former Grayson QB Nick Schuessler decided to give up his football scholarship to Mississippi State to be a preferred walk-on at Clemson (Nkemdiche has lived with Schuessler’s family at times).
The only person missing in the Grayson-to-Clemson pipeline is Ryan Carter, according to Nkemdiche.
Who is Ryan Carter? He’s a 5-foot-10, 175-pound defensive back who already has early football scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Georgia State, Tulane, Arkansas State and Southern Miss.
“He’s so hard-nosed,” Nkemdiche said. “He comes up and hits anybody. It doesn’t matter how big you are. He will come and hit you. That’s what I like about him. He plays with a high motor and is a great football player … Of course, I’m surprised he doesn’t have more offers. I’m waiting on him to get that offer from Clemson so he can come join the family.”
“Clemson said they like Ryan a lot and that he’s at the top of their board. Yes, sir, if Clemson offers Ryan, it would seal the deal. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. David and Ryan, those guys are like family. They are like brothers to me. I’m close to them. We’ve had success playing football together and I don’t want to change it.”
Carter said he’s had limited contact with Clemson but would probably commit rather quickly if they offered a scholarship. “Yes, because that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, to play with Robert in college. I’ve been best friends with David and Robert since the eighth grade. We’re like family.”
This is where it gets interesting: What if Clemson does not offer Ryan Carter?
Nkemdiche did not say he would de-commit or make any demands — other than to say it will make him look at perhaps the only school left in the high-stakes race at this point, Ole Miss, where Nkemdiche’s older brother plays college football.
Coincidentally, Ole Miss offered Ryan Carter a scholarship the day after Nkemdiche committed to Clemson. “If Clemson doesn’t offer Ryan, it would make me look at Ole Miss a little more, it would,” Nkemdiche said. “It’s very important that I have my boys with me.”
Said Carter, “Yes sir, we’ve all talked about going to Ole Miss together if that doesn’t work out with Clemson. Robert’s brother is there, and he’s definitely trying to get us to go there.”
Note: Nkemdiche also said he will definitely take an official visit to Ole Miss this fall to see his brother play. By the way, what was Denzel Nkemdiche’s reaction when his younger brother picked Clemson?
“He was like ‘I’d like you to come play with me at Ole Miss, but you have to do what’s best for you,’” Robert said.
Then there’s LSU, which Nkemdiche listed as his runner-up when he committed to Clemson. LSU was Kamara’s initial dream offer, but it never happened. LSU appears to be a longshot at this point.
“It’s real out there at LSU but they didn’t have any of my boys going there,” Nkemdiche said. “I didn’t feel like I would fit in there.”
What if LSU suddenly offers Kamara? “I don’t think it will change my mind at this point,” Nkemdiche said. “I feel like Clemson is the perfect fit for me for so many reasons. I hope they offer Ryan.”
Clemson fans can credit David Kamara for Nkemdiche committing to the Tigers. Nkemdiche knew relatively little about the program and wasn’t even really considering them until Kamara convinced him to accompany him to a few unofficial visits to Clemson this past spring.
“I just went up there a couple of times and I started liking it,” Nkemdiche said. “My boy David committed, and they liked Ryan. I want them to come with me. It feels like family at Clemson. The atmosphere is crazy. I liked it.”
Perhaps secondary in Robert’s attraction to Clemson was the spiritual connection to Dabo Swinney and the rest of the coaching staff. “I feel like God has blessed me in so many ways,” Nkemdiche said. “I feel like [Swinney] is really into God. And I feel like God can use me in so many ways that I could never imagine.”
When Nkemdiche visited Clemson last month, he was thinking about committing but didn’t know for sure until arriving on campus. After committing to Clemson, Swinney gave him the chance to back out of it. “He was like ‘Are you sure this is your final decision? Are you sure you are ready?’ I was like this is where I want to be, especially since my boys were coming along with me.”
If Clemson offered Ryan Carter, there would be the perception that it was a 5-for-1 package deal for Nkemdiche.
However, Grayson coach Mickey Conn said that’s not the case at all — that Nkemdiche’s best pals, Carter and Kamara, are legitimate D1 prospects. (Wayne Gallman is a 4-star talent who was recruited by most of the Southeast’s top programs)
“If Clemson offers Ryan, it won’t be because of Robert,” Conn said. “It will be because of Ryan. Colleges aren’t offering guys because of Robert. Well, there’s a little bit of influence [to get their film evaluated], I’m sure. But those guys are talented in their own right.
“Ryan Carter is extremely talented. You’re talking about a guy who runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. I timed him at 4.3 If you go back to the state championship game, that star running back committed to Alabama [Walton High School’s Tyren Jones], he had -19 yards rushing at halftime. A big part of that was our safeties, Ryan Carter and Kasey Gaines, coming up from the safety spot and hitting [Jones] in the backfield before he even got started.
“Ryan plays safety for us, but he can play a number of different positions, including wide receiver and cornerback. He has got great hands. He’s great with the ball in his hands. He returns punts. In the state championship game, he returned that long punt that put us in position to kind of put that game away right before halftime. He’s a very, very talented kid.”
What about David Kamara? “That’s not a free scholarship just because he’s buddies with Robert. That kid can play, too. You take a look at his highlight film and you see all you need to see. The guy is a physical specimen at corner and he’s got great speed. He runs a 4.5 and changes direction really well. Another great thing that people don’t realize is how long his arms and legs are … extremely long.”
Grayson could have as many as 8-9 seniors sign D1 scholarships this year, and Conn gives a lot of credit to Nkemdiche, who mentions his teammates to college coaches when talking them.
“All these colleges come by our school to see Robert, and when they get here, they watch the film and see that we have other kids that can play, too,” Conn said. “When your defense gives up 500 yards rushing in 15 games, there’s some talent there.
“These colleges have 25 scholarships or so. They’re not going to just give them out to get Robert. They’ve got to be able to play, and these kids can play.”
UPDATED: On late Friday night, Nkemdiche tweeted “I don’t like the ajc twisting up my words.” I then contacted Robert to see what specifically he was referring to in this article, where he felt like was misinterpreted, and offered to make any clarifications. With this story being picked up nationally, Nkemdiche was apparently upset with how he had been portrayed in some of the other blogs and on message boards. “I didn’t say if Ryan didn’t come [to Clemson] I won’t” — which is true. We reported that a Clemson offer to Ryan Carter would make Robert’s commitment a “done deal,” which is what he had said repeatedly in our previous interview. Despite his Clemson commitment, Nkemdiche is still being pursued by many other suitors because of his elite prospect status. Colleges will be trying to convince him to talk with their coaches and visit their campuses until signing day. With the “done deal” comment, Big Rob wasn’t making demands out of Clemson, but rather simply trying to help a teammate get a good look. (On a personal note, I thought that was refreshing because some elite prospect are self-absorbed, while Big Rob goes out of the way to try to help others). I asked Nkemdiche if there was anything else he wanted to say to the public. “It’s all good.” What do I think? I’ve been wrong before and will be again, but I think the possibility for Robert to have serious flirtations with other schools pretty much ended when Schuessler announced he was transferring to Clemson. That was big for Clemson. Even though Schuessler will join the program as a preferred walk-on, he is a legit D1 prospect and will likely earn a Clemson scholarship sooner than later. And again, Nkemdiche and Schuessler and his family are really close. Bottom line: Barring some unforeseen turn of events, there are just too many good things in place at this point (Kamara and Schuessler, proximity to home, Swinney’s impression, etc.) for Robert to sign anywhere else but Clemson.
What are your thoughts? Please post your comments below. Take a look at Ryan Carter’s video below and let us know what you think …
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