Nkemdiche Picks Clemson, My Exclusive Interview on It Really Happening*
It has been a week since Robert Nkemdiche, the best player to never have committed to LSU, Alabama, or Georgia yet, didn't pick LSU, Alabama, or Georgia.
Did it really happen? Of course, it did. I said so exclusively, on my birthday, last week on my birthday.
After talking with Nkemdiche's high school coach (and former Dabo Swinney roommate) Mickey Conn, I had some questions that I had thought might be good ones for people to ask me about Nkemdiche's recruitment, since he didn't pick LSU, Alabama or Georgia. And he picked Clemson. On my birthday.
The questions I asked myself, so I'd have a place to put my answers:
Are you surprised Nkemdiche didn't pick LSU, Alabama or Georgia? No. Nkemdiche is clearly the best ball player to ever fail to commit to Georgia, LSU or Alabama on my birthday. It is my opinion that I am not surprised he didn't pick Georgia. Many people, mainly me, thought he would pick LSU because he fits so well into LSUs 3-4 defense, unlike Alabama and Georgia's 3-4 defense. Since he didn't pick Georgia, clearly Georgia has lost recruiting momentum.
But Clemson? Look, Clemson did all the right things, like hire his guardian's college roommate as head coach and have Nkemdiche come for a camp. Clemson, unlike places like Athens, is close to his support group. The closest Chick-fil-A, besides the one on campus, is over a half mile away, so you aren't dealing with the unsavory aspects of those chicken sandwich with pickle eaters on every other corner like you would in Athens or Tuscaloosa. Baton Rouge is over run with quick service food joints specializing in all manner of fried foods.
What about Ole Miss? Ole Miss was clearly in the running early, but as other schools, schools better than Georgia and LSU, came in, they just got left off. He'll go see his little brother play, but that'll be all. Unless the Rebels offers more of his friends, which is just a brilliant move that I suggested was brilliant in other articles.
So did Georgia waste a coaching spot to try to get him? Yes. Daryl Jones' experience running Under Armor camps and 17 years coaching high school football around the state isn't a strong enough resume to be recruiting director at Georgia.
Was Georgia wasting their time all along? From the beginning. But as long as Nkemdiche was uncommitted, you have to go through the motions. It is my opinion, which I formed based on reading another of my articles, that Georgia never was in the race. The only reason Richt was trying to get him to come to Athens was because he had to in order to save face. You have the number one recruit in the nation 30 minutes from your campus. Even if you know you can't possibly close him, you have to put resources into that effort. Now that the ruse of saving face is over, they can focus on losing other guys that aren't going to go to Athens either.
Did Richt screw up again? Clearly. It was like Lane Kiffin all over again (with the recruitment of Da'Rick Rogers), except Swinney has a deeper faith and isn't showboating his faith to get players. And Clemson has a nicer campus. Richt had no intention of offering a kid who isn't in their recruiting plan, even if he would likely end up leaving in a year or two. Just plain bad recruiting, thanks for asking.
What about Saban? Well, Alabama doesn't give up on players like Georgia does. It is hard to say The Saban would just quit recruiting Nkemdiche; that is why he is the best recruiter of talent since Hugh Heffner in his heyday. I think, based on my thoughts, that if Nkemdiche waivers on his commitment it'll be to play for The Saban.
So, you think this was a failure for Georgia, Alabama and LSU? For Georgia, definitely. Richt got outdone in his back yard again. The Dawgs only won 10 games last year and their defense clearly needs the help after finishing below Alabama and LSU in the conference. They lost their bowl game, in embarrassing fashion, giving up 27 second half points. Alabama doesn't fail; The Saban abides. LSU, who knows? Miles loves his motor, but Baton Rouge was a bit off the radar for Nkemdiche, since he has no support group, teammates, high school coaches or other connections there. While he, in my head, loved LSU, I'm not surprised he didn't go there. Except I am surprised he didn't go there. Committing to Clemson, on my birthday, was a shock. Not going to LSU wasn't or was.
*It didn't actually happen this way, except it kind of did.