Ole Miss freshman Robert Nkemdiche came to Oxford with hype as you may expect from the top recruit in the nation, but after the opening days of camp the 6’5”, 285 pound defensive end is living up to the billing.
It took just four days of practice for the physically imposing Nkemdiche to take snaps with the first team defense. The only shocking thing about this is that it took this long. In all seriousness, though, Hugh Freeze did the perfect thing by not giving him the position as the starting defensive end and made him earn it.
His status as the starting end is not set in stone, but that is just a formality and as Hugh Freeze joked today, I wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen quite frequently.
I’ve said this from the start and firmly believe Nkemdiche will start every game he is healthy enough to play for Ole Miss during his Rebels career and with his presence, the Ole Miss defensive line will be dominant. C.J. Johnson, Channing Ward, Cameron Whigham, Isaac Gross and LaVon Hooks are talented in their own right, but the benefits of playing alongside the beast that is Nkemdiche will make them better.
Freeze and defensive line coach Chris Kiffin have marveled at his physical tools and just looking at him in pads is a scary thought to imagine what his future hold at Ole Miss and in NFL where he will have JaDaveon Clowney-like expectations after his junior year for the Rebels.
If there is one area that the coaches and younger brother and defensive stalwart Denzel Nkemdiche want out of the future All-American it is to sharpen his mental acumen.
“You don’t have to do anything to his body to make it already what it needs to be to play in this league,” Freeze said in March, according to ESPN. “He’s so far ahead of the curve with that. Now, it’s just a matter of him being mentally able to turn his athletic ability loose because he’s confident in what he’s doing.”
A confident Nkemdiche is not going to be a problem and to think of him turning his athletic ability loose is enough to have left tackles and quarterbacks in the conference up at night wondering how they can stop him.
This guy has No. 1 pick in the NFL draft written all over him and Ole Miss is getting a glimpse into his vast potential in the first few days of fall camp. This is an exciting time to be a fan of the Rebels and a reason for that is Nkemdiche.
Hype can be enough to make the biggest and strongest succumb to the pressure that accompanies that, but the only time you’ll hear Nkemdiche and succumb mentioned together is left tackles succumbing to trying to stop this man child.