To say consensus No. 1 national recruit Robert Nkemdiche made waves with his comments Friday to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his Clemson commitment would only be a "done deal" if the Tigers offered teammate Ryan Carter a scholarship would be an understatement capable of matching Nkemdiche's immense recruiting hype. Nkemdiche's demand has sparked national controversy, with CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel and Bruce Feldman already among those weighing in on the topic.
There's just one minor detail that's being overlooked, though, according to Nkemdiche: he never actually made that demand of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney.
"I didn't give Coach Swinney an ultimatum about anything," Nkemdiche told the New York Times in a Sunday phone interview. "I hope he doesn't feel obligated to offer anybody a scholarship because of my commitment."
Nkemdiche didn't back down from his hopes that Carter would eventually join him at Clemson, but said that whatever Swinney's decision proved to be, it wasn't going to affect his college plans.
"Of course I would want to play with him," Nkemdiche said of his teammate. “But if it doesn't work out, I'll still go to Clemson.”
On some level, Nkemdiche is correct that he never presented Carter's offer as a requirement for his Clemson signature. But as much sympathy as we have for a teenager who hasn't even begun his senior year of high school and is trying to do his best for a friend with the glare of the national media squarely on him, that doesn't mean he didn't issue Swinney an ultimatum.
"If Clemson doesn't offer Ryan, it would make me look at Ole Miss a little more, it would," Nkemdiche told the AJC. "It's very important that I have my boys with me."
Maybe that's not an ultimatum as regards his final decision, but the message to Swinney here is as clear as clear gets: offer Carter, or I'm going to consider Ole Miss. Debate all you want whether that's a demand Nkemdiche was within his rights to make, but despite his later objections, it really can't be mistaken as anything but a demand.
We don't blame Nkemdiche at all for trying to back away from those earlier statements, since we doubt he had any idea of exactly how controversial they would be, or the kind of light they'd been painted in many corners. ("That's not who I am," he told the NYT, referring to the perception that he was holding Clemson for ransom.) But this is a genie that can't -- and given the force behind his initial comments, shouldn't -- be put back in the bottle.
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