With the first big commitment of national signing day, Robert Nkemdiche has announced he will become an Ole Miss Rebel (h/t ESPN). In a move that really isn't all that shocking, it's now time to begin picturing him in Oxford and wondering what he can do as a true freshman.
All the speculation of the No. 1 recruit is now over with, so we can finally get into the good stuff and imagine him playing against some of the toughest competition in the SEC.
Will he live up to the expectations everybody has given him as a high school senior or fold under the pressure and take a little longer than expected to develop?
Here are Nkemdiche's freshman stat predictions.
The amount of tackles Nkemdiche ends up having will of course depend on the playing time he sees as a true freshman. Ole Miss returns 10 starters on the defensive side of the ball, but this is the No. 1 overall recruit we are talking about. Already in his grown-man body and built like somebody who has been in college for a year or two, he should see the field early and often.
Unlike when Jadeveon Clowney stepped on the scene for the South Carolina Gamecocks as a freshman, Nkemdiche has the perfect combination of size and speed. He isn't more of a finesse player that can be controlled, for the most part, by two defenders.
Due to the versatility and his college-ready build, expect Nkemdiche to be one of the most active tacklers immediately for the Rebels.
Predicted Number: 62
Tackles For Loss
One of Nkemdiche's strengths is his pursuit and quickness off the ball. He's not as explosive as some of the other guys in this class, but he gets a good jump off the line and can get into the backfield in a hurry. He also has a variety of moves in his repertoire that he can put on a defender. He can line up in multiple spots and be an effective run defender.
With him being as disruptive as he is in both the running and passing game, I expect to see him making a lot of plays in the backfield and putting a hurting on the opposing team.
He will finish the season with 15 tackles for loss, which ends up being three more than Clowney, the player he has been compared to, in his freshman year.
Predicted Number: 15
The one thing I love about Nkemdiche is his relentless pursuit and high motor. You never see him take any plays off, and he is going to do whatever he can to get to the ball-carrier and opposing quarterback. He doesn't let double teams slow him down, and he absolutely loves being on the football field and wreaking havoc on anyone he can.
This type of play will translate immediately in college and will help him finish with a high number of sacks for a freshman player.
Ole Miss finished second in the SEC last season with 38 sacks and will have another player that can add to that total.
Predicted Number: Seven