Robert Nkemdiche is the 247Sports Defensive Player of the Year for the class of 2013. His coach at Loganville (Ga.) Grayson, Mickey Conn, thinks his five-star prospect, the nation’s best for the next recruiting cycle, could have been named the Offensive Player of the Year as well if he would have featured the outstanding junior in his backfield a little bit more.
Robert Nkemdiche rushed for 528 yards and 17 touchdowns in addition to being one of the most dominant high school defensive players in American during the 2011 season.
Just think back to Mike Ditka using his colorful defensive tackle William “Refridegerator” Perry as a short yardage fullback during the 1986 Chicago Bears run to the SuperBowl, however Conn handed the football off to the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Nkemdiche in more than just goal-line situations.
This past fall, Nkemdiche was dominant in racking up 59 tackles, 18 sacks and 17 more quarterback pressures from his defensive end and nose tackle positions, but perhaps just as impressive on offense, the nation’s top-ranked junior rushed for 528 yards and 17 touchdowns in helping the Rams finish 15-0 en route to a AAAAA state championship.
“This ain’t no William Perry,” Conn stated. “This kid is like Herschel Walker or Bo Jackson running the football at 270 pounds. He runs a 4.56. He’s a guy you can give the football to anytime. He could sign to play tailback for anybody in the SEC or Division-I. That’s how good he is.”
Holding scholarships from every major college football program across the country, Nkemdiche is the one high school player according to Conn, that could possibly jump straight from high school to the NFL and be able to compete.
“If you walked into the (NFL) locker room, you’d have a hard time picking him out,” Conn said. “He’d fit right in.”
Conn first saw Nkemdiche when the talented prospect was in eighth grade, and knew he had something “freakish” coming through the pipeline when he watched the young man return a kickoff 80 yards. As a sophomore, along with his older brother Denzel who is now a freshman defensive back at Ole Miss, Nkemdiche was a big part in the Grayson’s run to the state semifinals.
Each year, Conn says Nkemdiche is relentless in working to improve.
“He’s so fast and he’s so big and physical, and he’s quick,” Conn said. “He plays with a motor. There are a lot of big guys out there that don’t play with a motor, and he has a great motor on him. He flies to the football. He power cleans about 340 pounds. He’s just really explosive, and when he gets his hands on you, it’s over. His hands are so strong, some of the strongest hands I’ve seen.”
Conn wanted to utilize Nkemdiche on both offense and defense as a sophomore, but didn’t want overwhelm his blue-chipper with learning both schemes. Now he figures wherever Nkemdiche chooses to play his college football, his skills will be utilized in some capacity on both sides of the football.
“He doesn’t like to talk about recruiting much,” Conn said. “He wants to be a high school kid and just enjoy. Right now his goals are set on winning another state championship and learning how to become a leader as a senior, which is another role he has to learn. He has a lot of options and coaches come in and our nice to him and he’s taking it slow.”