Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan — Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche addresses the media following his announcement that he'll attend Ole Miss to play football in the fall.
When it was all said and done, Grayson’s Robert Nkemdiche couldn’t turn down the opportunity to play college football with his older brother.
Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 ranked college recruit, signed with Ole Miss on Wednesday in the school’s theatre.
“I was like ‘What’s better than going to play with my brother, that’s up and coming, and a great coaching staff and that has really good things?’” Nkemdiche said. “I was like, this could be a good fit for me.”
Nkemdiche’s older brother Denzel, who he played with at Grayson in 2010, was an all-SEC linebacker at Ole Miss last season.
“Not everybody gets to do it,” Nkemdiche said of playing with his brother. “If they had the chance they would. I went ahead and did it.”
Nkemdiche chose Ole Miss over LSU and Florida where he took official visits in recent weeks.
“They were right there,” Nkemdiche said. “It was a hard choice. You gain real close bonds with those dudes.”
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end committed to Clemson in June, but de-committed from the Tigers in the fall. Clemson never appeared to be in the mix for the All-American the last three months.
“Oh yeah, they were,” Nkemdiche said. “(Coach) Dabo (Sweeney) and all those dudes are good people. It was hard to say I’m not coming there, but I can’t go to all the colleges.”
Nkemdiche’s announcement drew more than 50 media members and was televised live on ESPNU. Members of the Grayson football team sat in the theatre as Nkemdiche made his announcement, which was televised in every classroom at Grayson.
A sense of relief came over Nkemdiche as he announced his decision with his parents Sunday and Beverly and brothers Denzel and Bryan by his side.
“It’s a relief. It’s something I don’t have to worry about,” he said.
Nkemdiche took an official visit to Ole Miss on Jan. 25. It was one of many trips to Oxford, Miss., in recent months. But that final trip solidified his decision to go there.
“I felt like when I took my last official there, all these other guys coming with me, we have a chance to do some real special things,” Nkemdiche said.
Nkemdiche routinely made trips to Ole Miss to watch his brother play in person and he grew fond of the atmosphere surrounding the Rebels.
“Just the fans there, they are so crazy and wild there,” Nkemdiche said. “I feel like they really care for their players and that’s one of the things that really helped me. The fan base is really good. “
Nkemdiche is the Daily Post’s two-time Defensive Player of the Year. He posted 41 career sacks over three seasons, which included a Class AAAAA state championship in 2011. He was also used as a running back, mostly in short yardage situations, and scored 27 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Grayson posted a record 25-2 with a pair of region championships the last two years.
Nkemdiche’s size and speed has drawn comparison’s to several NFL players, including Julius Peppers.
“I have high expectations,” he said. “I want to do great things.”
He’ll get that chance at Ole Miss, which is coming off a 7-6 record under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze.
“Just the deciding factor, the fan base, the coaching, it’s a team on the rise. They are a really good program to me,” Nkemdiche said.
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