Ole Miss has been widely thought of to be the favorite to land 5-star defensive end and No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche since he de-commited from Clemson, but there's another program that may be quietly sneaking up to the top of his interest list—LSU.
While it still seems unlikely, considering Nkemdiche's family ties to Ole Miss and how vocal they have been about wanting him to play with his brother, Denzel, James Smith of NOLA.com writes that LSU may be battling Ole Miss for the top spot on Nkemdihce's list:
Some players’ recruitments warrant updates without breaking news. The nation’s No. 1 prospect, 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, is one such prospect. After a recent visit with LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley, the race to secure Nkemdiche’s signature is starting to shape up as a two-team race.
That said, Smith did acknowledge that it's going to be tough for LSU to land the No. 1 recruit, in his own commentary on the situation:
Nkemdiche’s mother has been speaking with Ole Miss coaches regularly; she has not had many discussions with LSU’s staff. It is still an uphill battle, but if LSU can make progress with Nkemdiche, like it did with North Carolina defensive tackle Greg Gilmore and his mother, then LSU just might pull it out.
247Sports lists Ole Miss as the favorite, and LSU is in a group of four "cool interests" that includes the likes of Alabama, Georgia and even Clemson.
For all intents and purposes, out of the four "cool interests," it would seem as if Alabama has the best shot to recruit Nkemdiche. Nick Saban's track record speaks for itself, and Nkemdiche's mother has actually come out and stated that she loves Alabama.
How can LSU out-recruit the likes of Ole Miss and Alabama?
LSU could pitch Nkemdiche on the fact that they constantly have a great, aggressive defense and that he can be utilized a lot like Barkevious Mingo or Sam Montgomery. Les Miles can sell him on the fact that LSU is generally one of the best teams in the SEC, if not the best, and by the conference's very nature, one of the best teams in the country—but none of that will really matter.
For one thing, Alabama can pitch just as much, if not more. Most importantly, though, Nkemdiche's recruitment really revolves around his family.
His mother, Beverly, has played a huge role in his recruiting process, and the opportunity to play alongside his brother at Ole Miss seems to be the reason the Rebels are his favorite.
If LSU does want to eventually land Nkemdiche, their best approach is to get in good with the Nkemdiche family, specifically Beverly, and they need to pitch them on the fact that they can still provide a full family experience. They need to establish a strong connection with her and her family, and they need to let her know that they care about Robert as a person and a student first and foremost, and then as an athlete.
Unfortunately, that's going to be a tough sell. Mrs. Nkemdiche has expressed displeasure about her sons squaring off against each other on the field, and both LSU and Ole Miss are in the SEC West.
To be frank, it's going to be a long-shot for LSU. If it came down to its merits as a football program, LSU would undoubtedly be one of the favorites, but Nkemdiche's recruitment hasn't been focused on just football, so it would be foolish to think that it will suddenly change so far into the process.
That's not to say it's impossible for the Tigers to pull it off.
The world of college football recruiting is often full of surprises, and Miles is a more-than-capable recruiter. There's really only one way I can see this happening, though.
If LSU wants to out-recruit Alabama and Ole Miss for the No. 1 recruit, the only way they can do it is by out-recruiting those programs with Mrs. Nkemdiche—not Robert himself.