No. 1 recruit Nkemdiche breaks down process since Clemson withdrawal

by | Special to

Older brother Denzel was Robert Nkemdiche's tour guide during a recruiting trip to Ole Miss. (Clarion-Ledger)  
Older brother Denzel was Robert Nkemdiche's tour guide during a recruiting trip to Ole Miss. (Clarion-Ledger)    

Ever since he decommitted from Clemson in early November, Robert Nkemdiche has shut himself off from media requests because of backlash from his decision.

More speculation came last week when his brother, Denzel Nkemdiche -- a linebacker at Ole Miss -- told reporters that Robert would commit to the Rebels in the near future.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end, the nation's No. 1 football recruit, also declined interview requests while Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) was looking to repeat as state champion in the 6A playoffs. Last Friday, however, Grayson was eliminated with a 28-10 loss to North Gwinnett (Suwannee, Ga.).

Nkemdiche sat down with to reveal the latest developments in his recruitment. Since you decommitted from Clemson, have you made any progress toward making a final decision on your college choice?

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Nkemdiche: "I'm still trying to see what I'm doing. There isn't anything official yet. I'm going here and there and seeing what I want to do. I haven't decided anything final yet." Have any coaches recently stopped by Grayson to visit you?

Nkemdiche: "Yeah, the LSU coach [Les Miles] stopped by today." Which are the top programs you're still considering?

Nkemdiche: "There's Ole Miss, LSU. Clemson is still in it. I like Georgia -- they're still in it. I still like Nick Saban and the great program at Alabama. I like Alabama. Florida is in it. There's a couple of schools here and there." What has it been like for you, as a high school student, to have every decision you make so closely scrutinized on a national level?

Nkemdiche: "It's stressful at times and it's tough. But God put me in this position for a reason. I just have to keep fighting through adversity. We had a great run this year and we had a great year last year. Right in the middle of all this is everything going on with me, with all the stress and everything. You just have to fight through that adversity. It's a really tough thing. My mom's away and my dad works all the time. It just happens. You have to keep fighting."

Nkemdiche's mother, Beverly, currently lives in the Nigerian state of Anambra as a representative in the congressional assembly. How difficult is it to have your mother in Nigeria and to not have her line of communication every day?

Nkemdiche: "Of course it's a challenge. But I just have to get over it. I have to get used to it, because it's what she has to do. I can't really say anything about it. She's doing her thing. She's doing what she can for the family, so I can't say anything about it." Has your recruitment been stressful enough for you to wish that it would all be over quickly?

Nkemdiche: "Yeah, it gets old. It has gotten old, but it's not going to stop until February when I sign a piece of paper and say I'm going to a school." What do you look for in a program when you try to narrow down your final choices?

Nkemdiche: "I'm looking for a program with history. I'm looking for a program with a great coaching staff and someone who can tell me what's real -- real people -- but they will also have my back when they're supposed to have my back. I'm looking for a place where I can be surrounded by great players and where I can play early, come in there and start as a freshman. I'm looking for good facilities that I like and a place that's really disciplined." When are you thinking of making your announcement? Will you wait for National Signing Day?

Nkemdiche: "It's just whenever I'm ready." How important is it for you to have your brother at Ole Miss, when you consider it as a college destination?

Nkemdiche: "That's a great thing. He told me so much because my brother helps me and is such a great dude. That's why it's so big. He's been through it all and he's really doing a great job. I wouldn't want to be doing anything different from what he's doing because he's making leaps and bounds in the collegiate level in football. So it's like if I go there, I already have a mentor that's blood to me. It's a big deal." What comments do you have regarding your brother's statement last week that you would commit to Ole Miss?

Nkemdiche: "Nothing is going on with that. He was just happy and ... just no comment on that." With the state playoffs over, does your attention now turn to recruiting and finalizing everything?

Nkemdiche: "I never really put all my attention on recruiting in the first place. Recruiting is just a distraction, kind of. I never put all of my attention on it in the first place. I pay a little more attention on school. I still have my school to focus on and things like that." Do you have any visits lined up in the near future?

Nkemdiche: "I don't know yet. I'm not sure. I haven't made up my mind on that yet."


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