The longtime No. 1 player in the 2013 class, Robert Nkemdiche will let his recruitment go down to the wire. The elite two-way prospect is lined up to make a decision early on Signing Day. Our Chad Simmons gives you the scoop on Nkemdiche's skills, recruitment and more.
Get to know him
High school: Grayson HS (Loganville, Ga.)
Rating: (No. 1 overall DE)
Biggest strength: Size and athleticism.
Area for improvement: Consistency.
NFL player he reminds us of: There are a couple that Nkemdiche compares to for different reasons -- Julius Peppers of the Chicago Bears and J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans. Peppers was a big athlete coming out of high school like Nkemdiche and both played defensive line and running back. Peppers is an elite pass rusher, very strong, and one of the top big athletes to be recruited out of high school. Watt is a big, physical defensive end like Nkemdiche that plays with discipline and is balanced against the pass and the run.
Q: Ole Miss keeps gaining traction as the favorite for Nkemdiche. His good friend David Kamara recently said the Rebels are his leader, and his brother Denzel already plays there. Should we expect Robert to end up in Oxford?
Simmons: The simple answer here is yes. All signs point and have pointed for some time that Nkemdiche would end up in Oxford as an Ole Miss Rebel. You can never guarantee a kid signs with a certain school, but I am very close to that with Nkemdiche and Ole Miss. LSU got a last-minute visit and Florida had him on campus, but his future home should be in Oxford.
Q: Nkemdiche made news in June by committing to Clemson, then backed out of that in November. What was the reason for the change of heart?
Simmons: I think he realized he reacted too quickly with Clemson. He saw his teammate and close friend David Kamara get the offer, he loved the idea of playing with him, and he committed during a weekend visit to Clemson. No real change of heart here, though. I do not think his heart was ever with Clemson. He liked them, but as soon as he committed, I felt like he would end up elsewhere. He was never solid to Clemson. He has had his mind on Ole Miss for some time.
Q: What are the biggest positives he brings to the field?
Simmons: Where do I start? The kid is a different type of player because of the combination of size, skill, smarts, and athleticism. He may be most impressive as a running back just because it is hard to believe the way he moves at his size. 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. He is a kid that offenses will key on, so he gives all of those around him better opportunities to make plays. His pure athleticism stands out to me as much as anything.
Q: What do you think we can expect out of him in his freshman campaign?
Simmons: I would expect him to start very early in his career. Not many come out of high school as physically and mentally prepared as he will. He comes from a great high school program, he has been coached very well, and he will have a big impact in 2013 barring some type of injury.
Q: Where, roughly, does he rank among the all-time Scout No. 1 overall recruits and what's the ceiling for his college career?
Simmons: He does not have a huge ceiling because he is already so good and so polished. He can improve his hands and maybe his motor a little, but he is coming out pretty polished. Guys like Jadeveon Clowney and Dorial Green-Beckham came out as No. 1s in recent years and they were much more raw than Nkemdiche. They had more room to improve, more of an upside. Clowney is still the best No. 1 I have seen since I got into this business because of that upside. Nkemdiche is going to get better, without question, but he is much more of a finished product than many others.
In his own words
"Having my brother (Denzel Nkemdiche) at Ole Miss has been good and bad because of everything that comes with that. I like Ole Miss and I'd love to play with him there, but I am going to make my own decision. It has been a little stressful for me, but I am very blessed to be where I am. I will be happy when I make my decision." -- Jan. 3