Texas Longhorns: Robert Nkemdiche

New-school recruiting for Ole Miss, Texas

September, 12, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Their paths don’t cross much on the recruiting trail, and what they’re selling isn’t all that similar.

Texas offers tradition and the 16-year track record Mack Brown has built, the national titles he’s won and played for, the titles he expects to play for again soon. Ole Miss has traditions, too, but it’s now a younger program led by second-year coach Hugh Freeze that’s trying to rise up in the SEC.

Old School vs. New School? Not quite, but not far off in the eyes of some recruits.

The matchup this Saturday of No. 25 Ole Miss and Texas is no doubt an intriguing one when viewed through the lens of recruiting. Both schools are among the nation’s best on that front.

Texas has had top 10-ranked recruiting classes in seven of the past eight years. Being a power in those rankings is nothing new for the Longhorns. But in Freeze’s first year, Ole Miss stunned the recruiting world by signing the No. 5 class in the country, highlighted by No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche, five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell and several other four-stars who will take the field Saturday night.

“He’s done a great job,” Texas coach Mack Brown said of Freeze. “I can’t remember what they did after our game, but they finished very strong, had the best recruiting year in the country and now they’ve got a great start. It’s great timing for us to bring a really good SEC team in here and challenge us before we get started in conference play. I’m excited about the challenge.”

Ole Miss went 7-6, but Freeze still capitalized on the annual phenomenon of coaches having first-year recruiting success. The relentless efforts he and his assistants make in recruiting are drawing attention.

There was also good fortune. Nkemdiche’s brother played for Ole Miss. Treadwell’s best friend did, too. Freeze proudly said on signing day that those ins were “God’s favor to us,” though the popular (and unproven) assumption among skeptics was that the Rebels had cheated.

[+] EnlargeRobert Nkemdiche
AP Photo/David TulisThe nation's No. 1 overall recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, led Ole Miss' recruiting success.
One thing was certain: Ole Miss sent a message on Feb. 6 when Nkemdiche, No. 1 tackle Laremy Tunsil and No. 2 safety Tony Conner all made signing-day decisions for the Rebels on national TV.

Jamal Adams was watching. The ESPN 300 safety from Lewisville (Texas) Hebron called that Ole Miss class “the best yet” and is convinced the Rebels are on the rise.

“They have the potential to go far in the next few years,” Adams said.

Adams has both Ole Miss and Texas in his top six and will take official visits to Oxford next month and Texas in November. He said most schools recruit him the same, but there is one thing Freeze’s staff does that caught him by surprise.

“They stay on you, giving you Bible verses every morning,” Adams said. “It’s cool at times.”

Ole Miss has offered more than 25 recruits from the state of Texas in this class and signed three Texans last year. Landing a big fish like Adams would do wonders for Freeze’s goal of making his program a national recruiting power.

"Recruiting in Texas has been big to us,” Freeze said Monday. “We've certainly picked up some momentum there. Going over there and doing well would provide dividends.”

Adams is as critical a target as any for Texas right now, a kid Mack Brown and his coaching staff has been recruiting for years. The approach they’ve taken -- not just with Adams, but all targets -- has undergone impressive changes in the past six months.

The hiring of Patrick Suddes in March to lead a new player personnel department has been a boon for the Longhorns’ recruiting efforts. They’re working hard to shed that “old school” label and modernize how Texas evaluates and pursues prospects.

Three-star Longview (Texas) defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson is keeping a close eye on both schools. He recently decommitted from TCU and has Texas and Ole Miss in his new top six. The moment he received an offer from the Rebels was a special one.

“I was like, dang. Nkemdiche, the No. 1 defensive end in the nation, is going to Ole Miss. And then when I got the offer, I was pumped up about it,” Henderson said. “I was like, ‘Man, I can go play with the No. 1 player in the nation.’ Not everybody can say that.”

He was raised by diehard Texas fans with Longhorn emblems on all their cars. Mom and dad love Texas, and his best friend Dorian Leonard has already committed to UT. Despite the recent turmoil in Austin following the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, Henderson is still planning to visit Texas next weekend. He has a feeling both schools can be atop the college football world someday soon.

“Texas is very similar to Ole Miss in their recruiting style,” Henderson said. “Either you want to go to Texas or you don’t. They want to know that from the start, if you have any interest in them. If you do, they want to talk to you.”

Like the Twitter-savvy Freeze, Suddes has helped refresh Texas’ recruiting methods on social media. On the first day they were permitted, he and Mack Brown were up late into the night sending Twitter and Facebook messages to 2015 recruits on Sept. 1.

They’ve held new recruiting events and ramped up their efforts with that 2015 class to the point that they’re in the lead for most of the state’s best. The point isn’t to put together one great class. It’s to stay ahead and work on two or three at a time, advancing your message and brand in as many ways as possible.

Freeze undoubtedly subscribes to that philosophy. He admitted on signing day it takes two or three elite classes to build a title contender. He proved in Year 1 he’ll compete with anyone.

Now that includes Texas. The Rebels and Longhorns will square off Saturday night at DKR, but that won’t be the last time they battle.
HornsNation is breaking down Texas' 2013 football schedule every Monday this summer. This week: The Longhorns' third game of the season vs. the Ole Miss Rebels on Sept. 14.

Ole Miss record in 2012: 7-6, 3-5 in the SEC

Last meeting against Texas: The Longhorns won 66-31 in Oxford, Miss. in 2012.

All time against Texas: Texas leads 6-1.

Top returners: WR Donte Moncrief, QB Bo Wallace, RB Jeff Scott, OL Aaron Morris, lb Denzel Nkemdiche, DL C.J. Johnson, DB Cody Prewitt, DL Issac Gross, DB Charles Sawyer

Key losses: TE Ferbia Allen, DL Gilbert Pena, OL A.J. Hawins, DB Wesley Pendleton,

Statistical leaders

Rushing: Jeff Scott (846 yards)
Passing: Bo Wallace (63.9 percent completion, 22 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 2,994 yards)
Receiving: Donte Moncrief (979 yards)
Tackles: Denzel Nkemdiche (82)
Sacks: C.J. Johnson (6.5)
Interceptions: Denzel Nkemdiche (3)

Did you know: Ole Miss signed 11 high school All-Americans, including the No. 1 player in the country, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. The class, which consisted of players from eight different states, also featured top-five position players at offensive line (Laremy Tunsil), wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell) and safety (Tony Conner). ESPN rated the class No. 5 nationally.

Three things to watch


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Peyton Barber finds himself in a bit of a win-win situation.

While the Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton four-star running back is perfectly content with being committed to Ole Miss, he’s still grateful for the opportunity to take official visits this month and ensure the choice he made in July was the right one.


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Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
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Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster

#BlueChipBattles: Dec. 21

December, 22, 2012
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Dee Liner, Reuben Foster, Tray MatthewsESPN.comReuben Foster (center) is torn between good friends Dee Liner (left) and Tray Matthews (right).

No. 1 ILB Reuben Foster has voiced his desire to play with at least one of his SEC-bound friends next season. But will he follow Tray Matthews to Georgia or hook up with Dee Liner wherever the ESPN 150 DL settles? It remains to be seen, but the mystery surrounding his recruitment keeps Foster at the top of our #BlueChipBattles.

Each week, RecruitingNation summons its writers from around the country to compile a list of the top 10 battles for elite football recruits leading up to February's signing day.

Here are this week's top battles Insider, and you can take a shot at ranking the top 10 recruiting battles on SportsNation.

#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 30

November, 30, 2012
11/30/12
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Carl Lawson, Dee Liner, Reuben FosterESPN.comCarl Lawson, Dee Linerand Reuben Foster are still committed to Auburn, but the Tigers' coaching situation could change things for the three ESPN 150 recruits.

Auburn bid farewell to head coach Gene Chizik on Sunday. Could the Tigers also be saying goodbye to a trio of ESPN 150 recruits who could take their talents elsewhere?

Each week, RecruitingNation summons its writers from around the country to compile a list of the top 10 battles for elite football recruits leading up to February's signing day.

Here are this week's top battles Insider, and you can take a shot at ranking the top 10 recruiting battles on SportsNation.

#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 16

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
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Alvin Kamara, Derrick GreenESPN.comUncommitted 2013 running backs Alvin Kamara and Derrick Green.

ESPN 100 running backs Alvin Kamara and Derrick Green can score from anywhere on the field thanks to their breakaway speed, an attribute that makes them very attractive recruits to the Oregon Ducks. Oregon's pursuit of the duo headlines this week’s #BlueChipBattles. Insider

Click through for our list to rank the top 10 recruiting battlesInsider.

#BlueChipBattles: Week 3

October, 19, 2012
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David Dawson decommited from Michigan and Justin Manning delayed his decision date, and that had a big-time ripple effect in this week's #BlueChipBattles Insider, as more than half of the top 10 spots have new occupants.

#BlueChipBattles: Week 2

October, 12, 2012
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With several of the nation's top football recruits taking both official and unofficial visits last week, our experts at RecruitingNation made some major tweaks to our top 10 recruiting battles with five new entrants in the fold. The top two remain the same, however, as Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil maintain their spots as the two most impactful players on the recruiting scene.

For the latest edition of #BlueChipBattles, click hereInsider.

Nkemdiche talks recruiting, Texas

May, 23, 2012
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video

Top uncommitted ESPN 150 DEs

April, 25, 2012
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video

There are some uncommitted defensive ends that are featured in the ESPN 150. Of course, topping the list is Robert Nkemdiche.

The nation's top player from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson is considering a handfull of SEC schools and Clemson. However, he has stated his desire to take a visit to Texas. Here's what the scouts have to say:

Recruiting update: Nkemdiche was hoping to announce on May 18th, the day of the Grayson spring game, but he won't be ready and wants to see all his favorites again. That group includes Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, and Ole Miss, all of which he has seen at least once over the past few months. At this time it looks as if the Rebels and Crimson Tide are the front runners. His bother (Denzel) signed with Ole Miss (Class of 2012) and he just saw the Rebels' spring game last weekend, but he has strong ties to the Alabama program as well. Meanwhile, both Clemson and LSU have made a great push of late.


Read the full story here.

Board Meeting: April 11, 2012 

April, 11, 2012
4/11/12
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Welcome to your daily Board Meeting. Each evening we’ll update you on the day’s hottest topics on the HornsNation forum.

1. Nkemdiche coming to Texas?: It seemed as if the recruiting season was slowing down after the spring game as Texas focused on which defensive backs and remaining targets to pursue, but Robert Nkemdiche might have changed the equation.

The defensive end, who projects to be one of the top players in the 2013 class, spoke with Max Olson and expressed his interest in taking a visit to Texas.

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Nkemdiche wants to visit Texas 

April, 11, 2012
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Robert Nkemdiche wants to visit Texas.

He doesn’t know when he’d do so and hasn’t had much contact with Texas coaches lately, but the elite junior defensive end from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson told HornsNation he is interested in seeing UT.

[+] EnlargeNkimdiche
Davide De PasRobert Nkemdiche still wants to see Texas and some West Coast schools before he makes his commitment.
Nkemdiche is arguably the top 2013 recruit in the country and is considering Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Georgia among his favorite schools so far. Still, he’s willing to give Texas a chance.

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Board Meeting: April 4, 2012 

April, 4, 2012
4/04/12
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Welcome to your daily Board Meeting. Each evening we’ll update you on the day’s hottest topics on the HornsNation forum.

1. Quick but important Torrodney Prevot note: William Wilkerson reported on a tweet from Prevot stating that he has decided to wait until possibly October to announce his commitment.

Is that a good thing for Texas? Tough to say. It’s going to be a fight to the finish for Prevot between Texas, A&M and LSU, but the Longhorns can afford to dig in here and commit to getting his commitment. As Wilkerson points out, Texas class is loaded as is and the staff is prioritizing its targets. They’ve started reaching out to DBs and an offer could go to Vincent Taylor, but if Prevot stays interested in becoming a Longhorn, Texas will stay after him.

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Board Meeting: March 26, 2012 

March, 26, 2012
3/26/12
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Welcome to your daily Board Meeting. Each evening we’ll update you on the day’s hottest topics on the HornsNation forum.

1. Kabongo making noise: It’s finally some good news for the Texas Longhorns basketball team. The Longhorns narrowly made the NCAA tournament only to get bounced by Cincinnati in their first game. The season’s end left many UT supports wondering what next year’s team might look like since both freshman Myck Kabongo and junior J'Covan Brown were seen as borderline NBA prospects and could have elected to leave. Kabongo has silenced the rumors about his future, for at least a year after announcing today that he’ll be back for his sophomore season. How will this affect Brown’s decision? What might the Longhorns lineup look like next season? Those are just some of the threads in this forum post.

2. Recuits: Broad topic, broad question thrown out from the fans. What five undecided recruits does Texas need to get? It’s tricky when discussing the 2013 class. There are only a few spots left and, don’t forget, Texas has yet to offer any in-state defensive backs. Some of the answers range from the realistic – Maurice Smith, Dontre Wilson, Ra’Shaad Samples -- to maybes like Su’a Cravens and Cole Luke, to wishful thinking like Robert Nkemdiche. Which five do you want?

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