When Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney came out with a strongly worded stance saying rumors of the school going to the Big 12 hurt recruiting, perhaps he was just laying a red herring for Thursday afternoon.
In a big surprise, the top recruit in the country and consensus No. 1 prospect Loganville (Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche committed to the Tigers, TigerIllustrated.com reports.
According to MaxPreps:
He compares favorably to Jadeveon Clowney, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2011. Nkemdiche is not quite as tall or fast as Clowney, but he's got a much bigger frame that could potentially allow him to play on the interior in college.
"Clowney was the better pass rusher, but Nkemdiche might be the better all-around lineman," Lemming said, likening Clowney to Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers and Nkemdiche to NFL Hall of Fame legend Reggie White.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end has a unique blend of size and speed that makes him a terror off the edge. He could play outside linebacker or even defensive tackle at the next level but will likely stay at end where he can utilize his polished pass rush skills.
With scholarship offers from just about every school in the country, many had considered Alabama the favorite to land Nkemdiche followed by Ole Miss, Clemson, Georgia and several others. One key selling point for the Rebels was that his brother, Denzel, is a freshman cornerback for the program. Nkemdiche's high school coach was a former player for the Crimson Tide -- coincidentally with Dabo Swinney.
Clemson has put on the full court press for the five-star player for months and added Nkemdiche's good friends and Greyson teammates running back Wayne Gallman and cornerback David Kamara. While it appears the Tigers' efforts paid off, most experts still expect Nkemdiche to wait until Signing Day or later to make a final decision and actually sign.
Either way, for now the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2013 is committed to Clemson.