The nation's No. 1 player in the nation for 2013 has been compared to Reggie White numerous times.
Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is the consensus overall top prospect in the Athlon Consensus 100, but instead of playing for the Tennessee Volunteers like White, he is headed to Oxford, Miss., to play for the Ole Miss Rebels. Nkemdiche got National Signing Day 2013 started in style when he ended a long and circuitous recruitment by signing his national Letter of Intent for the Rebs.
It is the single biggest recruiting coup for Ole Miss since it signed a star quarterback prospect by the name of Eli Manning over a decade ago.
The story began with the Clemson Tigers, however. Nkemdiche, along with a handful of high school teammates, appeared poised to move to Death Valley when the top prospect committed to the ACC program in the middle of 2012. Yet, his family wanted him elsewhere. Nkemdiche's older brother, Denzel, excelled this season as a redshirt freshman linebacker at Ole Miss and their mother never hid that she wanted her boys to be on the same field together.
So after de-committing from Clemson, his final decision came down to LSU and Ole Miss. Les Miles put on the full-court press during the 11th hour in an effort to lure the top player into what is considered the top defensive line class in the nation. But the power of Hugh Freeze tugging on Nkemdiche's family heart strings was too much to overcome.
Like many of the nation's No. 1 players in the nation — many of whom have recently waited until well after NSD to officially sign — Nkemdiche's recruitment had its fair share of dramatic storylines. However, it is somewhat refreshing to see the top prospect not only sign on the day he is supposed to but to do it right out of the gate in the early morning and with few superfluous bells and whistles. There were no live props or bait-and-switch hat games. He stepped to the podium and announced he would sign with "the University of Ole Miss." (Okay, maybe there was one Freudian Slip).
Nkemdiche has an elite blend of size (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) and speed (4.7-second 40-time) to go with a motor that never stops. He is a slightly different prospect than former No. 1 overall end Jadeveon Clowney, but has a similar upside. He is an instant impact prospect who will compete right away for playing time. He is physically prepared to rush the passer, but what makes him special will be his ability to stay on the field in running situations. Few players are ready to line up against SEC offensive lines and hold their own in the ground game right out of high school, but Nkemdiche might be one of them.
He is a versatile prospect who will start on the outside as an up-the-field edge player but could easily develop and grow into an interior stopper by the end of his career. Needless to say, he has rare physical skills.
Ole Miss fans have been been buoyed by Freeze's presence on the recruiting trail of late, landing elite AC100 names like the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation Laquon Treadwell. Nkemdiche makes this group a top 10 class nationally and it makes the Rebels one of the biggest stories this year in recruiting. It's an exciting day to be a part of The Grove, but come this fall, the focus will shift to see if Nkemdiche, Freeze and the rest of the Rebels can put it together and win at a much higher level than Ole Miss has in the last few years.