Robert Nkemdiche is back on the market, but for how long? And how closely should we listen until he signs a letter of intent?
The nation’s consensus No. 1 football recruit pulled the plug Thursday on his commitment made nearly five months ago to Clemson, according to Mickey Conn, Nkemdiche’s coach at Loganville (Ga.) Grayson High School.
Nkemdiche and his parents are headed to Oxford, Miss., to watch Ole Miss host Vanderbilt on Saturday night. Nkemdiche’s brother Denzel is a freshman linebacker for the Rebels. Their mother, Beverly, a central figure in Robert’s recruiting dramatics, wants her sons to attend the same college.
So the five-star defensive end may pledge his loyalty to Ole Miss this weekend in what would rank as a massive recruiting score for first-year coach Hugh Freeze.
But no matter what Robert Nkemdiche says, and no matter where he goes before February, consider that a cloud of uncertainty has hovered above Nkemdiche since he was identified as the most coveted Class of 2013 prospect a year ago. History indicates his situation will remain fluid until signing day.
Nkemdiche canceled plans more than once to announce his college decision. Shortly after he said yes to Clemson’s offer in June, joining two others from Grayson High School, a report surfaced in which Nkemdiche suggested that Dabo Swinney extend an offer to another prep teammate.
Later, his mother told ESPN The Magazine that she didn’t want Robert at Clemson.
Signs have pointed for weeks toward this decommitment.
The reality is this: Nkemdiche and his family sit at the center of a high-stakes battle. He was not prepared to handle the twists thrown at him. His confusion is understandable. It’s unfortunate that his family decision has unfolded on such a public stage.
More twists await. Alabama looms as a contender. Georgia could enter play as a dark horse.
But that’s life as a 6-foot-5, 265-pound DE who's talents are a mix of Julius Peppers’ strength and Jadeveon Clowney’s speed.
Beverly Nkemdiche is set to return next week to Nigeria, where she works as a legislator in her native state. She’ll be back with Robert to watch him play in the Under Armour All-America Game in less than two months.
By then, the uncertainty may have lifted. Most likely, though, the clouds will remain.