2014 SEC Top 100 Countdown: No. 66 Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Mississippi

SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.

Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.

66. Denzel Nkemdiche, Jr., LB, Ole Miss

An instinctive linebacker with fantastic closing speed, Nkemdiche’s production took a dive last season after a knee injury sidelined him for two games in September but he still managed All-SEC laurels with 35 tackles in 10 games — six starts at the stinger spot — for the Rebels. Coaches are hoping an offseason brush with law enforcement won’t derail an otherwise impressive start to his career in Oxford.

Nkemdiche was suspended in February and missed all of spring practice after being arrested for disorderly conduct and failure to comply with a police officer. Coach Hugh Freeze has made it clear the elder Nkemdiche is on a short leash with the program but thus far, has done everything asked of him since rejoining the team in April.

If Nkemdiche continues to show he’s learned from his mistakes, he’ll reacquire his spot as one of the Rebels’ best players on defense after serving a mandatory suspension in the opener. A freshman All-American in 2012 and all-league player last season, Nkemdiche has the tools to be one of the nation’s best linebackers, but questions linger on whether or not he can handle the temptations that come with being a standout football player off the field.

At full strength, Nkemdiche’s ability to shoot gaps and slide beneath oversized tackles off the edge is as good as any of the league’s top returning linebackers.

2013 statistics: 35 tackles, FF, FR in 10 games
2014 projection: 52 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 INT, 3 sacks

Photo Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • So is anything going to come out of he and his brother beating a dude for no apparent reason, or is the school up north just gonna turn the other cheek?

    • A quick search would tell you that a police investigation revealed that there was no evidence either Nkemdiche brother was involved in said fight. So to answer your question, no they will not be punished.

      • a quick search of an ole miss pd investigation would tell you nothing else. The lawsuit still has to be dealt with and it will most likely be settled out of court in favor of the accuser with a non disclosure clause and money being paid. Anyone buying the investigation crap is naive and not in touch with reality. The video of knimdiche on the ole miss sidelines at the egg bowl and the video of them on the beach tells you all you need to know about the knimdiche boys. Get over it already. they are thugs. period.

        • Ha, come on Riffe. We all know that MSU players have done a lot worse than any Ole Miss players. Ya’ll might as well except it, there isn’t else going to happen to the brothers. MSU fans seem to care more about what happens at Ole Miss than they do MSU.

        • really couldn’t care less about what happens at ole miss other than to want to see them lose every game at every sport period.

    • last time i checked, calling someone the n word in this day in age is apparent reason to “beat a dude.” Im sure yall think otherwise in Starkville

      • only in self defense would it justify someone getting beaten. Being called a name is not reason enough for the violence. But I’m sure you all think otherwise in oxfart.

  • What do State fans and Ole Miss fans have in common? They both care the most about Ole Miss