Robert Nkemdiche: Winners and Losers from Top Recruit's Decommitment
Now that the inevitable has happened in the form of top recruit Robert Nkemdiche decommitting from Clemson, it's time to take a look at the biggest winners and losers from the latest saga in this ever-changing recruiting scenario.
The news became official Thursday morning in a letter from Nkemdiche's high school football coach Mickey Conn to MaxPreps of CBS Sports.
While Nkemdiche's decommitment can't exactly be seen as a surprise and was expected by many people close to the situation, it certainly packs a punch and forces us to look ahead to what it could mean for the future of the college football landscape.
Let's break down the biggest winners and losers from Nkemdiche's decommitment.
Winner - Ole Miss Rebels
Despite their recent struggles in the Southeastern Conference, the Ole Miss Rebels have always been in major contention for Nkemdiche and no one benefits from this news more than Hugh Freeze's squad.
Ole Miss seems to be on the upward trend even without Nkemdiche, as 247Sports has the Rebels at the No. 17 recruiting class in the nation thus far.
But a commitment from the undisputed top player in the nation would send shockwaves through the rankings and would cement Ole Miss as a rising power in the SEC West.
We've seen in the SEC how one defensive recruit can alter the landscape of a team (see: Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina), so what Nkemdiche could do for this Ole Miss team can't be discounted.
Thursday's news could be the beginning of the best thing to happen to Oxford, Miss. in a long time.
Loser - Clemson and the ACC
There's no doubt that the Atlantic Coast Conference has been slipping in the ranks of major college football conferences with the recession of teams like Miami, but Nkemdiche's hopeful arrival to Clemson was a major sign of optimism.
One player doesn't define an entire conference, but the impact of the obvious best player in the country heading to the ACC would likely translate to additional commitments across the board.
Though this decommitment may hurt the ACC, it damages Clemson even further. The Tigers offered scholarships to a few of Nkemdiche's close friends at his request (per Matt Hinton of CBS Sports), which were players that may not have been considered otherwise.
If the allure of the conference was the main reason for Nkemdiche's decommitment, you can't blame him. Six-straight national championships speak for themselves, and if it's hardware that he's chasing, the SEC is the place to be.
However, if he wants to leave his biggest individual mark possible and stray from the usual path for whatever reason, going back to Clemson isn't impossible.
Winner - Nkemdiche Family
When Ole Miss successfully courted Nkemdiche's older brother, Denzel, last year, it elated Rebels fans as it was widely expected for Robert to follow his sibling wherever he chose.
Where will Robert Nkemdiche end up?
We now know that wasn't quite the case, though, and it's understandable if this dramatic recruiting saga has sent the Nkemdiche family through a roller coaster of emotions.
The chances of the two siblings playing on the same team would undoubtedly make things easier as far as travel plans and watching both sons play, and the decommitment from Clemson means the chances are exponentially higher for the siblings to either play on the same team, or in the same conference.
While nothing is out of the question at this point and there's certainly still a major chance for Clemson to court the top recruit, Thursday's news shows promise for any Nkemdiche family members who strived to see the two boys play on the same defensive line.
Winner - Alabama Crimson Tide
As if they really need any more recruiting help, Alabama could end up landing the nation's top recruit when this is all said and done.
The Crimson Tide have never been seen as a favorite to land Nkemdiche, but have always been in the hunt.
Is it a bit of foreshadowing that Nkemdiche's decommitment comes just days after Alabama's emotional, 21-17 victory over LSU? I myself was wondering what the Tide could've done in that game with an elite pass-rusher as Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger wasn't tested enough, and perhaps Nkemdiche noticed a similar dynamic.
Nkemdiche would immediately become the cog of any defense he joined, so why not join the nation's signature defense? While Clemson and Ole Miss certainly can boast some strong arguments, neither can comfortably say they'll be as nationally relevant as Nick Saban's squad.
One thing is certain: Nkemdiche has a very tough decision on his plate. Don't expect him to make it anytime soon.
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