Published March 18, 2013 - 8:35am
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Now with National Signing Day in the books, let’s look at the top newcomers in the SEC for 2013. Predicting the top newcomers is often very tough, and these aren’t just merely rankings of the top players. We’re going to look at what type of impact they’ll make and where they’ll make it.
No. 5 – Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
From: Loganville, GA (Grayson)
Size: 6-4, 285 pounds, 4.65 40
The Skinny: Houston Nutt had just as big of an impact for Ole Miss signing Robert Nkemdiche as Hugh Freeze did. Nutt signed Robert’s older brother two years ago. And the elder Nkemdiche not only paid off by pulling his all-world younger brother, but he’s turned out to be quite the player, too. Robert is the consensus No. 1 player in the high school ranks, and he’ll have an impact on Ole Miss’ defensive line next season. But how big will his impact be? Usually, unless you’re Jadeveon Clowney, freshmen defensive linemen have little impact. Clowney and Nkemdiche are different players, and Clowney nabbed eight sacks his freshman season. Nkemdiche will contend for a starting spot with returners CJ Johnson and Channing Ward the day he walks onto campus.
Heading into National Signing Day, there was little doubt younger brother would join older brother, and tip your hat to Hugh Freeze for ultimately sealing the deal. Nkemdiche’s signature helped propel Ole Miss to a top 10 finish in recruiting, and he was a massive reason Laquon Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil, among others, signed with the Rebels, too. But, ironically, all roads lead back to the chance Nutt took on the elder Nkemdiche. And did it ever pay off.
What Ole Miss is getting: The Rebels signed the next Reggie White. Nkemdiche is a throwback-type player who will remind you of the late White. White, of course, starred in the SEC at Tennessee before lighting up the NFL. Nkemdiche is athletic enough to play fullback or jumbo back on offense, but he’ll grow into a dominant defensive end in the SEC. The cornerstone for Hugh Freeze is now in place, and how he uses and develops his star class will be the tale of the tape.
You’re probably wondering why Nkemdiche isn’t No. 1 on this list. It’s just tough for freshmen defensive linemen to have a major impact in their freshman season. It’s not one of the instant impact positions like we see at corner, receiver or running back. It takes linemen a while to mature into dominant players. I’m not even sure Nkemdiche is the biggest instant impact signee on the defensive line in the Rebels’ class.
Other impact newcomers:
- No. 6 Kelvin Taylor, Florida
- No. 7 Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn
- No. 8 Derrick Henry, Alabama
- No. 9 Tre’Davious White, LSU
- No. 10 Alex Collins, Arkansas
- No. 11 Chris Jones, Miss State
- No. 12 Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky
- No. 13 OJ Howard, Alabama
- No. 14 Marquez North, Tennessee
- No. 15 Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M
- No. 16 Leon Brown, Alabama
- No. 17 Fred Ross, Mississippi State
- No. 18 Tray Matthews, Georgia
- No. 19 Jonathan Allen, Alabama
- No. 20 Ben Bradley, Auburn
- No. 21 Alex Anzalone, Florida
- No. 22 Carl Lawson, Auburn
- No. 23 Frank Herron, LSU
- No. 24 Larenz Bryant, South Carolina
- No. 25 Ryan Timmons, Kentucky
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports