The first time I saw Robert Nkemdiche in person, was at a Nike Camp in the
Spring of 2011. I didn't recognize him by face, but it was obvious by his build
that he was someone to be reckoned with. A high school coach I knew looked at me
and said "Guess what he weighs," as Nkemdiche was stepping up to the
scales. Having scouted players for over 10 years, I'm usually within a half inch
and five pounds guesstimating. "230, 235?" I asked.
Nkemdiche tipped the scales at over 260. A lean 260. Most 16 year olds haven't begun to fill out their lower bodies through their hips, glutes and thighs, but Nkemdiche's (who was wearing sweatpants) was rock solid from head to toe.
OK, so he's big, so what?
The next time I saw Nkemdiche in person was at Hoover's 7v7 during the summer. He plays spot duty at running back and full time defensive end for his Grayson team, so I thought he might be there simply to support his teammates. He lined up at linebacker throughout the tournament, and he was arguably the best, most athletic linebacker in attendance.
Watching Nkemdiche on film, his raw power jumps off the screen. He can manhandle an offensive lineman and drag a ball carrier to the ground one handed. But he's more than just brute force. When he's running the ball, he shows abnormally quick feet. He can make a quick stutter or jab step, turn of the field and run by a lot of players.
Grayson is about 30 minutes from the University of Georgia, and his head coach Mickey Conn went to Alabama. The Crimson Tide have long been the favorite for Nkemdiche, and Georgia figures to get a shot based on proximity. If I were recruiting him from another school, I might just tell him running back to differentiate my pitch. Seeing him play running back is no crazier than those who thought Brandon Jacobs (6'4/264) of the New York Giants was too big for the position.
Scout has had a Top 100 since September of 2012, but next week a more detailed set of rankings will come out that go beyond the Scout 300. Nkemdiche may or may not end up being the No. 1 overall prospect for the Class of 2013, but he's on a very short list of possible contenders.
See why in his junior highlights courtesy of FOX Sports Next: