After Ole Miss defeated Mississippi State 41-24 last weekend, Rebels standout Denzel Nkemdiche said in a video interview that originally ran in The Oxford Eagle that his brother Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson), the No. 1 overall prospect in the ESPN 150, would commit in two weeks.
Late Tuesday night, Robert did not confirm or deny a commitment was close to occurring.
“I do not know about that,” Nkemdiche said. “I will have to see. If I do make my decision, I will probably hold an announcement. I am not going to say I will or if I won’t. I am still iffy-iffy. If I do commit, I think I will still take my official visits.”
Nkemdiche says he has no plans to take any officials until January, and only listed Oregon and LSU as two visits he knows he wants to take. Ever since he decommitted from Clemson three weeks ago, speculation has been that it is a foregone conclusion that Nkemdiche will end up playing with his brother in college. Although Nkemdiche admits he has not heard from many schools recently, he feels it is not so cut and dry just yet.
“To people that do think I am a lock to Ole Miss, I will just say you never know,” Nkemdiche said. “I could end up falling in love with any other school. If schools give up, they give up, but you never know if I take a visit and fall in love. It could happen.”
Nkemdiche was back in Oxford, Miss., to witness the Rebels’ victory, and the five-star defensive lineman was excited for his brother and the Ole Miss program.
“Denzel played great and I was very happy to for him,” Nkemdiche said. “Ole Miss had a great season and they are going to a bowl game. I have developed a great bond with the Ole Miss staff. They are very nice people that watch out for my family and my brother. I feel like they are on the rise.”
One team that could be moving on is the team he chose over the summer with his teammate David Kamara.
“I have not spoken to Clemson since I decommitted last month, but they have hit me up on Facebook a couple times,” Nkemdiche said. “I still think about how hard it was to decommit, but it will be all right.”
Kamara has since decommitted from Clemson as well to evaluate other options. Nkemdiche originally committed to Clemson in June over offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and USC and several other programs. Nkemdiche is not worried about playing at a school not nationally known for its recent success.
“I feel like I could be just as relevant at Ole Miss as I would anywhere because I could go in and make a difference,” Nkemdiche said. “That would make my light shine even brighter.”
Nkemdiche’s mother, Beverly, who gained national attention after publicly voicing her displeasure for Nkemdiche committing to Clemson without his parents knowledge or approval, left to return to Nigeria two weeks ago.
“I hated telling my mom bye because we were so close,” Nkemdiche said. “But she has to do what she has to do to make ends meet. I have never been to Nigeria, but she lives in a nice area and she is working hard to change the economy over there, so I am very proud and happy for her. I am looking forward to seeing her again when I play in the Under Armour All-America Game in Florida. I hope to show out in that game.”
Nkemdiche’s quest to help his team win back-to-back state titles ended last Friday in a second-round loss to Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett. Nkemdiche has no regrets on the disappointing end to his high school career.
“We had our chance to win, but we made a lot of mistakes and let it get out of hand by giving up too many big plays,” Nkemdiche said. “North Gwinnett is a great team and I wish them the best. I am not the type to mope over a loss for a while. It happened and there is nothing I can do about it now. I am grateful to be able to say I am a state champion and was able to do a bunch of great things in the community and accomplish so much in high school. I played a different role this year and let other guys make plays this year. I had a lot of tackles, did not have as many sacks, but I ran the ball fairly well. The attention teams put on me opened things up for my teammates to make big plays.”
Now Nkemdiche, who says he weighed in at 282 pounds at the end of the football season, plans to prepare for the next stage in his life.
“It is time for college now so I am working with a personal trainer and getting ready to play the 9-technique coming off the edge,” Nkemdiche said. “You will see me getting one-on-one matchups again next year and it will be like my sophomore year all over again. My goal is to be a freshman All-American and win freshman defensive player of the year. I have big goals, but I feel that I can meet them It is crazy that my high school playing days are over. I was No. 1 in high school and I am going to wear No. 1 and be No. 1 in college, too!”