Taking a look at Robert Nkemdiche

I have a column in today’s Daily Journal on the parallel paths of Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche and Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Jones.

Hugh Freeze and Dave Wommack have been pleased with the Nkemdiche’s first season.

You can see his dominant potential. Sometimes you can see him dominate. Sometimes you can see his youth.

The moral to the story here is that even the nation’s No. 1 recruit doesn’t arrive on campus at the top of his game.

Nkemdiche missed most of three games this season and has still posted some impressive numbers with seven tackles for loss going into Thursday’s game.

His measurable production would most likely be more if not for the injury to C.J. Johnson.

Here’s Freeze: “With the loss of CJ, I think everybody up there took a little hit. We don’t have the gifted one-on-one pass rusher anywhere. People can slide protections anyway they want to against us right now, because they really don’t have a lot of fear that we can win a lot of one-on-ones. Thats who we are right now. With that in mind I think he’s had a successful, solid year. Probably thought we’d have gotten a few more tackles for loss and sacks when we were in fall camp with everybody healthy. When changes like that happen it changes the dynamics of your team.”

Here’s Wommack on Robert Nkemdiche: “I don’t mean this negative, but it’s been like a freshman. There have been times that he hasn’t been in the gap like he was supposed to be, but he plays wide open. He has a tremendous up-side. At times he’s been inconsistent, but for the most part I’m proud of him and where he’s at, like any freshman. When this team continues to age and get older it’s going to be really special.

Wommack on the defensive injuries: “Losing CJ and Carlos hurt us a bunch from that standpoint. Those were going to be our speed rushers. We knew what CJ could do, arguably the best player on defense last year. I thought Carlos had made huge strides in getting to where he needed to be to give CJ a rest at times. When we lost both of them that kind of stunted our growth. It forced us to move some people and slowed his progress.”

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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