No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche surprised many by making his commitment to Clemson in June. On Wednesday, Nkemdiche acknowledged the family is split over his nonbinding verbal commitment and admitted it has not made his decision any easier.
“My recruitment is crazy still, and Ole Miss is making a push for me,” Nkemdiche said. “It does not matter to my dad, but my mom wants me to go to Ole Miss and we are still talking about it, so we have not come to an agreement on it yet. It is tugging my heart in two different directions.”
When Nkemdiche committed to the Tigers, he mentioned it being like a family at Clemson. He has former teammates at Clemson and current teammates committed there, but it appears that connection will now be tested by his own family ties. Last month, Robert’s father said he was indifferent to where his son signs. But his mother, Beverly, told ESPN the Magazine’s Zach Schonbrun that she was not happy to learn of her son’s commitment while returning to Georgia over the summer from Nigeria, where she is a state legislator.
"His decision is not final," she said. "He's just a teenager, and people are forgetting that. We had never discussed Clemson, and I am unhappy with Clemson. I'm not there, so I don't know for certain, but I feel like Robert was pressured into this decision."
One of, if not the most heralded prospects to come out of Georgia in the last decade, Nkemdiche announcement he would sign with Clemson came one day after teammate and defensive back David Kamara chose Clemson while the two were on an unofficial visit. Earlier in the spring, another teammate, four-star running back Wayne Gallman also committed to Clemson. The quarterback for last year's state championship Grayson team, Nick Schuessler, signed with Mississippi State before transferring this spring to Clemson, where he is a walk-on.
Nkemdiche, who lived with Schuessler's family in the past, spoke about the benefit of playing with his friends in college last month, when he was awarded his Under Armour All-America Game jersey.
"What separates Clemson from the other schools is the way they treat their players. They are all one big family, with everyone working in sync together. I have my friends coming with me, too, so I could not ask for anything better."
While Robert was emerging as an elite prospect two years ago, his older brother Denzel flew mostly under the radar. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound prospect had a few smaller offers on signing day, but questions about his size, coupled with his academic status being uncertain heading into spring of his senior year, kept most BCS schools from showing interest. But Ole Miss took a chance on Denzel, and it has paid off for the Rebels.
Starting at stinger, a hybrid linebacker/defensive back position in the 4-2-5, Denzel has 38 tackles, eight for loss, two sacks, two fumbles forced and an interception. He was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his game against No. 1-ranked Alabama in which he had 11 tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack for the Rebels. Robert is excited about his brother’s accomplishments, and happy that Denzel has escaped being mentioned as only a package deal offer to get Robert.
“My brother Denzel went to Ole Miss because it was the best fit for him and he has found success there,” Robert said. “So now wherever I go everyone knows it will be the best fit for me, and hopefully I can have that same level of success.”
Other schools are still hoping to get the top prospect on campus as well, and while Robert says he has yet to think about any official visit plans, he did mention two other SEC programs he intends to take trips to.
“I will be at the Ole Miss game at Georgia on an unofficial,” he said. “I still plan to visit LSU but I do not know what day.”
The nation's top prospect is not sure if he will be back in Oxford Saturday to see his brother take on Auburn. If Nkemdiche does attend, it will be the fourth time this season he has attended a game at Ole Miss.
Robert, who took down his Twitter account so he could focus on his senior season, says he has 52 tackles, three sacks, 19 quarterback hurries and five rushing touchdowns against constant triple-teams. He could miss his game this week against Berkmar because of back spasms but is expected to get an MRI done before Friday. His mother will return to Loganville to attend Robert’s senior night game against Brookwood on Nov. 9.