You can hear the Rebel yell from here.
No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche committed to Ole Miss on Wednesday, bringing to an end a high-profile recruitment in the early hours of National Signing Day.
"After much discussion and prayer, I have decided to attend the University of Ole Miss," Nkemdiche said, shedding his high school letter jacket and donning a red Rebels cap.
Nkemdiche made the announcement at his high school in suburban Atlanta. He was also considering LSU and Florida.
The announcement set off an instant reaction in the Ole Miss signing room back in Oxford, Miss. Head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff erupted in cheers after hearing the verdict.
The family connection was a major draw for Nkemdiche. His brother, Denzel, is a linebacker for the Rebels and earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2012, and the pair had indicated that their mother wanted them to remain close in college.
|Brothers Denzel (left) and Robert Nkemdiche sported matching outfits for Robert's announcement Wednesday.
"That was a pretty big factor," Nkemdiche said. "I said, 'Let me go play with him and do something special' because that was the best idea and choice for me, so that’s why I chose them."
But it was more than that that drew Nkemdiche to the Rebels. His strong connection with Freeze was instrumental.
"He's a good person," Nkemdiche said. "He's a man of his word. I respect him a lot. I feel like he's got good things coming."
Nkemdiche heads to a campus in the football-loving SEC, where competition is fierce and the fans expect results, something Nkemdiche says he's relishing.
"Those fans over there are crazy," he said. "It's a great fan base."
Nkemdiche originally committed to Clemson in June before deciding to back out, admitting he gave his pledge prematurely.
LSU was said to be making a late push and got a visit from Nkemdiche just last weekend.
"LSU pushing man !!!! Getting hard now," Nkemdiche tweeted on Sunday.
A versatile 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end, Nkemdiche has also showed skills as a running back at Grayson High School.
"He may be most impressive as a running back just because it is hard to believe the way he moves at his size," Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons said. "On defense, he has good technique and he is very explosive off the ball. He pursues the ball well, he plays those cut-back lanes, and he is very tough to block one-on-one."
That talent figures to get him on the field early and often. He said Wednesday his goal is to be a freshman All-American.
Ole Miss was 7-6 last season in Freeze's first year as head coach in the hyper-competitive SEC. The Rebels beat Pitt in the BBVA Compass Bowl to end the season. The Rebels were just 2-10 in 2011.
But oh, how things are changing. Just two hours after Nkemdiche's announcement, No. 7 overall prospect and top offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil also chose Ole Miss. Another hour after that, No. 3 overall safety Antonio Conner also picked the Rebels.
"It's unbelievable," Freeze said of the wave of major commitments. "The guys in this room have done such a phenomenal job in building relationships with these guys."
The Rebels entered the day 12th in Scout.com's team rankings, before Nkemdiche's commitment, but that number is rising fast.
Several other top players in the Ole Miss class have sent in their Letters of Intent as well, including five-star wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, four-star quarterbacks Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade, four-star offensive tackle Austin Golson and four-star running back Jordan Wilkins.
"The feeling right now is unreal," Denzel Nkemdiche said. "It's real hard to explain. I'm glad it's over. I wanted him to make the right decision that he wanted to make and I wanted him to feel comfortable with the decision he made because he's going to be where he's going to be for the next three years. I'm glad he's going to be there with me. I'll be able to look after him and take some care of him and we'll be able to win the national championship together."