Well, say this about the nation’s No. 1 high school football recruit, Robert Nkemdiche: The boy knows how the recruiting game is played.
That’s because on early Friday morning, the Clemson commit shared some very, VERY interesting comments with Atlanta Journal-Constitution recruiting writer Michael Carvell telling him:
“I am waiting on Clemson to offer Ryan; when that happens, it’s locked … it’s a done deal … it’s over,” Robert Nkemdiche told the AJC.
Not exactly, but if you’re wondering who “Ryan” is, that’d be Ryan Carter, a 5’10 safety prospect who just so happens to be a teammate of Nkemdiche at Grayson High School. And while it’s impossible to speculate the true meaning behind Nkemdiche’s words, the innuendo seems pretty clear: “If you don’t offer my boy a scholarship, I might start looking around elsewhere.”
Whether those are Nkedmiche’s true intentions or not only he knows, but given the circumstances of his original commitment to the school last month it wouldn’t be totally shocking. After all this was a kid who had planned to make his college choice in May, then eventually decided to back off because he needed more time… only to switch thing up and pledge to Clemson out of nowhere just a few weeks later.
Of course the announcement wasn’t really “out of nowhere” since in the days leading up to Nkemdiche’s commitment to the school, two of his Grayson High School teammates- running back Wayne Gallam and defensive back David Kamara- had committed to the school as well. Nkemdiche followed up just a day later, angering opposing fan-bases who all pretty much seemed to think the same thing about the Nkemdiche-to-Clemson news: The only reason he committed to the school was because that old trickster Dabo Swinney had promised to take his boys along for the ride.
Again, we don’t know if that’s true or not, but those were the rumors at the time of the commitment. And the best part is now it appears Nkemdiche has turned the tables back on Clemson. Could he seriously walk if Carter isn’t offered a scholarship? Given his friendship with Gallam and Kamara it doesn’t totally seem likely, but at the very least, Nkemdiche isn’t afraid to leverage his own skill to try and help others. And really, who wouldn’t want a friend like that?
Yup, that Robert Nkemdiche is a damn smart kid. He knows college football recruiting is a dirty, dirty game, and he also knows that at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be watching out for anyone but yourself. Credit the kid for not being afraid to exploit a system that is trying to exploit him.
As a matter of fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that the kid may have the recruiting game figured out better than just about anyone we’ve seen come around in a very long time.
Why’s that? Well, I found it interesting that prior to Nkemdiche’s commitment to Clemson, he told reporters (including the Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee) something very interesting about what his final decision would come down to. Unlike so many other recruits, his choice wouldn’t have anything to do with comfort at a school, a coaching staff or potential future teammates, but instead with which school ran a scheme that best prepared him for the NFL. Apparently the 18-year-old was already talking to pro scouts, and already mapping out his professional future… three years before he’s even eligible for the NFL Draft. When reports came back that the best scheme for him would probably be in a 4-3 as a defensive end, it immediately put LSU and Clemson at the top of the list, and bumped Alabama with their 3-4 off his list. Just days later Nkemdiche committed to Clemson.
So there you have it: Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 recruit is committed to Clemson. For now.
But if the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that there will likely be a few more chapters to this story before Signing Day.
For all his insight, analysis and opinion on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.