Last night, a rumor went out that stated that Nkemdiche had decommitted, but the 5-star defensive end and consensus No. 1 recruit for 2013 denied the report via a text message to Michael Carvell of ajc.com.
It seemed as if the rumors weren't true, but Will Hammock of gwinnetdailypost.com is citing Nkemdiche's coach, Mickey Conn, who is confirming that Nkemdiche has indeed decommitted:
Grayson senior Robert Nkemdiche, the nation's No. 1 football prospect, has decommitted from Clemson, Rams head coach Mickey Conn confirmed Thursday morning.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive lineman chose the Tigers this summer, but the constant pressure and heavy recruiting didn't slow down much for the five-star recruit. Conn said he notified the Clemson coaches of the decision on Sunday.
"I think he's still very interested in Clemson, but he's got a brother (Denzel) who goes to Ole Miss and he's got other schools that he likes as well," Conn said. "He's going to clear his mind and take some other visits."
Kipp Adams of ESPN.com also just put out a report that quotes Nkemdiche himself, who doesn't want to talk about recruiting:
When reached Thursday, Nkemdiche said he is not talking about his status anymore. Nkemdiche's mother, Beverly Nkemdiche, also had no comment about her son's status.
"I'm not talking to anybody about anything," Nkemdiche said Thursday. "I'm not talking about recruiting anymore. I'm not talking about recruiting with anybody."
This is about as official as it can get, folks. After months of questions and doubt regarding his status with the Clemson Tigers, Nkemdiche has finally backed away from his commitment.
The speculation on whether or not Ole Miss is in the driver's seat now is bound to run rampant, but let's focus on this from Clemson's perspective for a moment.
What do the Tigers do now?
If there is any silver lining in this, it's that—at least according to Hammock's report—Nkemdiche's coach still thinks that the 5-star defensive end has an interest in Clemson.
Dabo Swinney and his staff shouldn't give up on trying to get Nkemdiche to come back into the fold.
Nkemdiche is the No.1 recruit in the nation for a reason, and that's because he projects to be an elite defensive end at the college level. As it stands, this is a catastrophic loss for Clemson, so they need to do everything they can to try to reel him back in.
As far as "Plan B" is concerned, though, there are not many ways Clemson can make up for this loss.
They can get very close, though, if they are able to land the commitment of 5-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams, who is the No. 2 recruit in the country, according to 247Sports, and will be visiting Clemson this weekend. The problem is, 247Sports also has major programs like Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia on Adams' interest list, so the Tigers will have their work cut out for them.
They're also going to have to turn their attention to 4-star defensive end Elijah Daniel, who is committed to Clemson, but is considered a "soft verbal" by Rivals.com and could be a candidate to flip. He's arguably now the premier defensive end commitment for their class—although they still do have three in total—so they absolutely can't afford to lose him.
Two other names that could at least help make up for the loss would be 5-star corner (according to ESPN Recruiting Nation) MacKensie Alexander, who has Clemson and Texas A&M on top of his 247Sports interest list, and 4-star offensive guard Tyrone Crowder, who has Clemson on top of his 247Sports list. Those are two players that would be big wins for the Clemson program, so expect the Tigers to start devoting a lot more attention to them.
Landing these high ranked recruits and bigger names in this class won't completely make up for losing Nkemdiche, but it can at least help fill that void. Remember, football is a team sport, so the more elite recruits Swinney can bring in, the better off Clemson will be.
At this point, all that Swinney and the Tigers can do is try to move on and pick up the pieces of this recruiting disaster.
Nkemdiche isn't yet off the table for Clemson, so they'd be irresponsible to just give up and let go, but they also have to realize that the chances of getting him to come back are pretty small.
Ole Miss has quite an advantage in the fact that Nkemdiche's brother, Denzel, plays for them, and their mother has been very open about wanting her sons to play together.
Clemson needs to keep trying, but their full attention now needs to turn to a recruits like Adams Alexander and Crowder—while also keeping Daniel committed—who they do have a very good shot at landing.