Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation, and the fact that he hasn't committed to LSU already is shocking. In fact, between them and Ole Miss, it's clear which choice is the right one.
Don't get me wrong. Both schools are excellent options for a defensive star in the making like Nkemdiche. Ole Miss's program has produced stars like San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, and players including LaRon Landry of the New York Jets and Morris Claiborne of the Dallas Cowboys passed through LSU before heading to the NFL.
Based on those factors alone, it's understandable why Nkemdiche would have a hard time choosing between the two. Both schools have fine football programs and are fairly close to Nkemdiche's home state of Georgia.
One one hand, Ole Miss is the perfect choice for him. His brother, Denzel, already plays linebacker for the Rebels, and his cardiologist father has reportedly been offered a job at the university's medical center. On personal reasons alone, Ole Miss is the clear frontrunner.
But Nkemdiche needs to think about more than just family. He's going to school not only for an education but to have a shot at playing in the NFL. On that basis alone, Ole Miss is not the right spot for him, at all.
Nothing against the Rebels, but head coach Hugh Freeze is the team's fourth in the last decade.
Ole Miss appeared to be righting the ship under Houston Nutt, but that dream died just two years into his tenure. Freeze went 7-6 in his first season with the team, but the presence of a powerhouse in Nick Saban-led Alabama makes every game an uphill battle, and that could hurt any Rebel player's draft stock.
Thus, as hard a decision as it may be, Nkemdiche needs to go to Baton Rouge and suit up for the Tigers. Head coach Les Miles is an excellent coach and teacher, and the fact that he was able to turn the team around just three years after winning a national championship in 2007 shows how well Nkemdiche can do there.
The fact is that LSU has had a longstanding identity under Miles for years, and every transition or rebuilding phase has gone smoothly. The same cannot be said for Ole Miss, who are still trying to find a permanent identity post-Eli Manning.
Nkemdiche is thus at a crossroads as Wednesday's deadline approaches. In one case, he can go to Ole Miss, play on the same team as his brother and become a very good defensive end. He may not win championships, but can still earn some valuable experience and be an attractive prospect to many NFL scouts.
In the other case, however, he can go to LSU and regularly battle with Alabama for the top spot in both the BCS and the SEC. It may be harder, but the potential championship experience will speak for itself when it comes time for NFL scouts to look at him.
Under those circumstances, Nkemdiche can go from being a very good defensive prospect to a great one.
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