Robert Nkemdiche.One of the biggest names of National Signing Day began the day's festivities by shocking exactly no one. Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson (Ga.) High School, Rivals.com's top high school recruit in the nation, has opted to sign with Ole Miss.
Nkemdiche, a 6' 5", 260-pound defensive end, follows his brother Denzel, already a starting linebacker for the Rebels, to Oxford. He had been recruited by Florida and by LSU, which made a strong late pitch, but in the end there was little doubt that Nkemdiche would go where his mother wanted him to play. That, as a bow-tied Nkemdiche put it at his Wednesday morning announcement, was "the University of Ole Miss."
The Nkemdiche signing is the exclamation point on a stunning turnaround for Ole Miss. The Rebels have had a recruiting coup this season, and with coach Hugh Freeze finding his footing, the 2-10 season of just two years ago is already a distant memory. Freeze has worked the recruiting angle, and Nkemdiche is one of the payoffs to all his hard work. Ole Miss is also expected to sign the top receiver (Laquon Treadwell) and offensive tackle (Laremy Tunsil), as well as several other top recruits.
In high school, Nkemdiche recorded two straight 18-sack seasons at the same time his older brother was strengthening the Ole Miss defensive presence. Denzel Nkemdiche led Ole Miss with 82 tackles in 2012.
The recruitment of Robert Nkemdiche had much of the Southeast pinballing between hope and despair. He'd initially committed to Clemson last summer after following a friend there for a visit. But he kept visiting Ole Miss, and his mother reportedly exerted considerable pressure on him to decommit from Clemson and focus on Ole Miss.
In the end, Nkemdiche listened to his mother. And "the University of Ole Miss" is much better for it.