The parallel paths of Nkemdiche and Jones

Mississippi State defensive end and Houston native Chris Jones declared for the draft yesterday, something Robert Nkemdiche did earlier than most folks because he was unavailable for the Ole Miss bowl game.

I’ve always been intrigued by the parallel paths of these two.

They are two immense talents. Both were high school ends who ended up playing mostly tackle in college.

Nkemdiche was a known recruiting commodity. Jones blew up late in national all-star games.

Jones’ surge helped him achieve the No. 2 defensive end ranking in the Class of 13 behind Nkemdiche according to

Nkemdiche was a consensus No. 1 overall player, while 247Sports had Jones ranked No. 2 overall behind Nkemdiche. Laremy Tunsil was third.

Nkemdiche and Jones will be forever linked not only by recruiting rankings but by how closely they came to being teammates.

Jones, it appeared in the winter of 2013, gave careful consideration to signing with Ole Miss. Hugh Freeze and his staff felt good about their position with Jones late in the process.

There is no denying the ability these guys showed on the field in terms of tying up blockers and attracting the attention of opposing offenses.

As it turns out, both were pretty average in terms of sheer production.

In three seasons Jones finished with 18 tackles for loss and 8 1-2 sacks. Nkemdiche had 19 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

The NFL draft is more about pro potential than college production. Maybe both will further blossom at the next level. We’ll see.


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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