CLEMSON — The “as Nkemdiche turns” recruiting soap opera will likely not conclude until February’s signing day, but Clemson’s chances to sign the nation’s No. 1 recruit are diminishing.
Grayson High football coach Mickey Conn confirmed to the Charleston Post and Courier on Thursday that the five-star defensive end has backed off his commitment to Clemson.
Conn told 247Sports.com that Robert Nkemdiche withdrew his pledge last Sunday. “It was a family decision he made with his mom and dad,” Conn said.
Nkemdiche has faced increasing pressure from inside his family to play at Ole Miss, where his older brother, Denzel, is a redshirt freshman linebacker.
There had been an increasingly shaky commitment from Nkemdiche toward to Clemson coinciding with Nkemdiche’s mother’s return from Nigeria – where she’s a legislator.
Nkemdiche’s mother returned to the U.S. for a brief vacation last month.
Last week Nkemdiche’s mother said her son’s verbal commitment to Clemson was meaningless. She also said he had no plans to visit Clemson and stressed that her preference was for her sons to play together at Mississippi.
TigerIllustated.com reported Beverly demanded her son de-commit before she returned to Nigeria, which she’s expected to do in the next several days.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound prep star was the prize of Clemson’s 2013 commitment list and was projected to fill a significant need for Clemson as a potential impact pass rusher. Clemson’s class remains deep and talented without Nkemdiche and fell only from 12 to 14 in ESPN’s Class of 2013 rankings.
Still, the de-commitment doesn’t rule out Clemson from signing Nkemdiche in February.
Conn told reporters Nkemdiche is still “interested” in Clemson. Ole Miss is thought to be the favorite for his services and Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Oregon are also in play.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is regarded as a top salesman on the recruiting trail and former Clemson star C.J. Spiller’s mother didn’t want Spiller to attend Clemson. The key for Clemson might be getting Nkemdiche to visit Clemson again to remind him of why he originally committed to the Tigers.
Two of his high school teammates – Wayne Gallman and David Kamara – remain committed to Clemson.