Ole Miss has widely been thought of as the front-runner for the commitment of No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche. Even though they still have a very good chance considering his ties to the program, his recent comments would suggest that his mind is in no way made up.
This is not good news for the Rebels. Conversely, it should provide a ton of hope for other interested programs that may have a chance to land the 5-star defensive end.
Nkemdiche refuted the concept of him being a lock to commit to Ole Miss, according to quotes from Kipp Adams of ESPN.com:
“To people that do think I am a lock to Ole Miss, I will just say you never know,” Nkemdiche said. “I could end up falling in love with any other school. If schools give up, they give up, but you never know if I take a visit and fall in love. It could happen.”
Adams also reports that Nkemdiche wants to take official visits in January, and that two programs that he wants to visit are LSU and Oregon. Nkemdiche was also very vague when talking about his brother's comments that stated the No. 1 recruit would commit in two weeks, per Adams' report:
“I do not know about that,” Nkemdiche said. “I will have to see. If I do make my decision, I will probably hold an announcement. I am not going to say I will or if I won’t. I am still iffy-iffy. If I do commit, I think I will still take my official visits.”
It's not a foregone conclusion that Nkemdiche will commit to the Ole Miss Rebels.
While Nkemdiche also did say (via Adams' report) that he's developed a "great bond" with the Ole Miss staff, and that he could be "just as relevant" at Ole Miss as he would be anywhere else, it's not hard to see that he's nowhere close to making an official decision.
If he does indeed wait until January to make his official visits that puts a ton of time back on the clock for programs to recruit him, and it also gives them time to talk to his family. Frankly, that seems to be the most important factor in regards to his recruitment.
More than anything though, it should provide other programs with the confidence that Nkemdiche is still a player they can land.
Even though Ole Miss is listed as his favorite, 247Sports has Alabama, Georgia, LSU and even Clemson still listed as "cool interests" on his list, and you could probably put Oregon in that category now as well.
All these programs should have renewed energy knowing that they may just have some new-found reason to try to out-recruit Ole Miss, and frankly, if it came down to just football, they would all have the upper-hand.
Outside of Ole Miss, who has the best shot to land Nkemdiche?
Family has played a gigantic role in his recruiting process so far though, and it's tough to see that changing, so 'Bama, Georgia, LSU, and Oregon are going to have to focus on the home front if they want to have a serious shot at Nkemdiche. (Nkemdiche said that he hasn't talked to Clemson since he decommited, but they have contacted him on Facebook, per Adams. Either way, I'm going to consider them out of the running at this point)
Perhaps they don't have a chance, but there's one thing that's for certain, and that's the fact that these other programs have more reason to believe they can land Nkemidche today than they did yesterday.
He appears to be far from making a decision, and he's basically told us that Ole Miss is not the lock that we thought it would be.
The window of opportunity has opened back up for programs not named Ole Miss that may have a chance to land the No. 1 overall recruit for 2013.