Robert Nkemdiche ended the suspense, however mild it may have been, by announcing he would sign with Ole Miss about 45 minutes ago on ESPNU.
Nkemdiche was joined at the podium by his parents and also, his brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, the Rebels’ play-making All-SEC linebacker.
After working his way through thank yous while addressing a gathering at the Grayson High School aduitorium, Nkemdiche said, “The recruiting process has been long, but I’ve enjoyed it. After much discussion and prayer, I’ve decided to attend the University of Ole Miss.”
The video feed quickly cut away to the war room at Ole Miss where Hugh Freeze, his assistants and others in attendance erupted in hugs, hand shakes and high fives.
The Nkemdiche brothers were sporting Grayson gear before the announcement. They quickly shed the gear to reveal matching white shirts and suspenders.
Denzel Nkemdiche has fielded questions about this day throughout the season.
“I wanted him to make the right decision that he wanted to make and be comfortable with the decision he made, because it’s going to be where he will be for the next three years.”
ESPN national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill compared Robert Nkemdiche to South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, giving Clowney an edge on the physical size, but grading Nkemdiche higher on energy – lots of talk about the Nkemdiche motor – and versatility – lots of talk about the possibility of Nkemdiche at tackle or nose.
ESPN’s Rece Davis commented on the momentum of this Ole Miss class and said it’s important for the Rebels to capitalize on this class with big wins quickly because it’s been so long since Ole Miss has won big on the national stage.
Former coaches Derek Dooley of Tennessee and Mike Belotti of Oregon were also guest analysts on ESPNU’s early morning Signing Day coverage.
The former coach lineup included Gene Chizik of Auburn, who appeared in a phone interview and said, “I think it’s an epic day for Hugh Freeze,” Chizik said.
Chizik also said to look for the possibility of Nkemdiche on offense.
After coverage cut away for a few minutes – This was mingling time for Nkemdiche and his Grayson teammates according to an agenda circulated during the week – Davis conducted an interview with Nkemdiche, who laid out the biggest reasons he chose Ole Miss.
“I feel like it’s the right place for me, a place that can do special things. It’s on the rise. I can play with my brother and do something special,” Nkemdiche said.
Davis asked Nkemdiche how important the presence of his brother was in choosing Ole Miss.
“It was a pretty big factor. I wanted to go play with him and do something special. That was the best choice for me.”
Freeze was a big factor too.
“He’s a good person, a man of his word. I respect him a lot. He has good things coming.”
Nkemdiche said he believes he will have to adjust to the speed of the game, “bigger, stronger, faster people … more people like me. I have to get used to that and go play football.”
Nkemdiche said his goals next season will be to be named freshman All-American and “to do special things on the team that will lead to a winning season. I want to do some good things.”