Nkemdiche juggles normal life versus life of a big time recruit

by - Senior Writer -

LOGANVILLE, GA. – Robert Nkemdiche wants to be like a normal teenager. He wants to hang out with friends, go places and generally live the life of an up-and-coming high school senior.

But that kind of life is almost impossible when you are the No. 1-rated high school recruit in the nation, a position that the Loganville (Ga.) Grayson product currently holds.

The 6-5, 285-pounder runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, shows unbelievable athletic ability and can even catch passes out of the backfield or run the football when the occasion calls for it. That blend of size and speed has college scouts around the country drooling over the chance to sign a player who can be a difference maker on whatever defense and school he chooses.

Grayson’s practice on Tuesday was attended by several on-lookers – including several college coaches – and others just wanting to get a chance to see Nkemdiche in action. And when practice and school are over, he has to deal with all of the phone calls from recruiters, recruiting analysts and all of the writers from just about every website that covers a team that has offered Nkemdiche.

He says that it is all part of the process, and that he stills finds time to just be a regular teenager.

“It is what it is. It’s just part of it,” Nkemdiche told TigerNet Tuesday following that practice. “I have a girlfriend and I like hanging out with her. I have my best friends. They are my close friends and I like to chill with them. That is what I like to do. “

Nkemdiche showed a different side during Tuesday’s practice, acting as more of a player-coach with several of the younger players, and he said that being a leader is about more than just your play on the field.
“I feel like I have to be that way, just because of who I am,” he said. “I feel like I have to help my coaches, because there are so many new players out there trying to play football. It doesn’t hurt to have me help teach them, and my coach says he wants me to help them understand the game and technique.”
Nkemdiche almost didn’t play football, trying out both baseball and basketball before finding his true calling.

“At first, I tried to be a baseball player,” he said. “And then my brother started playing football in 7th grade and I started going to some of his games. I liked how physical it was. Basketball wasn’t physical and baseball wasn’t physical. I liked football because it was physical and I went out there and started knocking heads. In 7th or 8th grade, they saw I was fast and had size and was a good athlete and told me I might have a future. So I started working hard.”

That ability to knock heads was very evident during Tuesday’s practice, and it’s evident he enjoys playing the game. Even after 2 ½ hours of practice, he was more than willing to catch passes and carry the football on offense, all the while helping out with his coaching.

“I just thank God I am athletic enough to play on both sides of the ball,” he said.

The Tigers are just one of many suitors for Nkemdiche, who recently has narrowed his choices down, and he described his top six for TigerNet and his timeframe on a decision.

“I might make a decision before the season starts,” he said. “It really all just depends on how I feel. My top schools are LSU, Alabama, Clemson, Ole Miss, Georgia and Texas. I guess you can say that is my top six.”

His father, Sunday, is an ER doctor at Grady Hospital and his mother is in politics in their native Nigeria. His brother, Denzel, now plays at Ole Miss, so the family is scattered at this point in his life, and it wasn’t surprising to hear him say that Clemson’s sense of family is one of the main attractions the school holds for him.

“Clemson is like a family. That is critical for me,” he said. “All the coaches are great people. You see how some people are in it for the money, but they aren’t like that. That is important to me.”

See David's one on one interview with Nkemdiche below:

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