While the University of Georgia would have been ecstatic to receive the commitment of No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson), his commitment on Thursday to Clemson has to be considered good news for the Bulldogs.
For starters, Nkemdiche, touted as the best prospect out of Georgia since Herschel Walker, had long thought to be leaning toward Alabama, with Ole Miss and LSU also strongly in the mix. But Nkemdiche, who is coming off back-to-back 18-sack seasons as a sophomore and junior in high school, never seriously considered the Bulldogs, even though Georgia extended him his first offer. Georgia put considerable hours into his recruitment early, but there was never consistent interest from the five-star defensive end, and his announcement to Clemson actually puts more pressure on others than the Bulldogs.
Now if the Tide and other nearby programs such as Ole Miss or LSU want a shot at landing Nkemdiche’s signature, the coaching staffs will have to ramp up their efforts to land the premier prospect in the country, and those valuable hours will give Georgia, who will likely move on, an advantage with its other targets.
Others, such as four-star linebacker prospects Naim Mustafaa (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta), who committed to the Bulldogs last week, and Davin Bellamy (Chamblee, Ga./Chamblee), who visited Georgia Thursday, are now established as the top two pass rushers on the board for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
Even though the top prospect in Georgia is headed out of state, the backlash if Alabama had received his commitment would have been much worse in the court of public opinion. Since his arrival in Tuscaloosa in 2007, Nick Saban has made recruiting Georgia a major priority, signing 25 out of the talent-rich Peach State. The momentum created by reeling in a five-star prospect that lives less than an hour away from Athens could have had a tremendous effect on the 2013 class for both the Tide and the Bulldogs.
Not that there might be some ripple effects with other Georgia targets considering the Tigers, such as ESPN 150 defensive lineman Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly Co.) and ESPN 300 defensive lineman Antonio Riles (Lawrenceville, Ga./Archer). To fend off Clemson, Georgia will need to keep the foot on the gas and continue its recruiting success to date, which has resulted in 19 commitments so far.
With the Mark Richt Camp set to take place this weekend, do not look for Georgia to lose any sleep over the loss of Nkemdiche to Clemson. In fact, the coaching staff will likely rest easier knowing the circus caused by the nearby phenom’s heavily publicized recruitment is no longer their problem.