By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
ORLANDO, Fla. – Robert Nkemdiche probably feels the most alone on the football field.
The Loganville, Ga., 5-star defensive end has been unanimously tabbed as the best high school football player in the country.
At an Under Armour All-America luncheon this week, Nkemdiche somehow managed to finish off his meal as reporters flocked to his table for interviews. He granted every request.
Nkemdiche and the all-stars spent part of Thursday laying sod on a youth football field as a community service project.
He isn’t that friendly on the field and credits his work ethic for his success.
“I’m always ready to learn something new. It doesn’t matter how good I think I am or how good everybody thinks I am,” he said. “I feel like there is always more to learn.”
What makes Nkemdiche an interesting figure in North Mississippi is the possibility of what his future holds. A one-time Clemson commit, he has Ole Miss in the lead as national signing day approaches in February.
Nkemdiche says LSU and Florida are still very much in the mix. His older brother, Denzel, is a star linebacker for Ole Miss.
“I don’t want to compare him to a pro because that’s not fair to the guy, but he has a body like Julius Peppers,” Under Armour Nitro coach Herm Edwards said. “You play football with your legs. You’ve got to have some potatoes in your sack. He’s got potatoes in his sack.”
Today’s Under Armour All-America Game is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. ESPN will televise the game live. Several recruits will be making their announcements, but not Nkemdiche. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder said it’s not hard to stay grounded amid the attention.
“I was very humbled by my D-line coach at Grayson.
“He always kept me level-headed,” Nkemdiche said.
The game features several undecided prospects, including Houston 5-star defensive end Chris Jones, a Mississippi State commi, who added an offer from Ole Miss Tuesday. South Panola’s Antonio Conner was originally going to announce tonight but has postponed until Feb. 3.
Crete, Ill., wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is the country’s top-rated receiver and has Ole Miss in the mix, along with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Auburn High school linebacker Reuben Foster, the nation’s top linebacker, has been committed to Alabama and Auburn and both of those schools hope late-comers Washington, Georgia and Miami don’t steal him away.
Auburn has multiple interests here in Muscle Shoals 4-star lineman Dee Liner and top-rated weakside linebacker Carl Lawson. Auburn hopes to hang on to both after the coaching change.