Robert Nkemdiche has more leverage than you might think with Clemson

Robert Nkemdiche (Photo courtesy of Roy Philpott, CUTigers.com)

Robert Nkemdiche (Photo courtesy of Roy Philpott, CUTigers.com)

— Let’s get one thing clear, right from the start: recruiting is about relationships.

Building them. Cultivating them. Nourishing them. And doing whatever you need to do to keep them productive.

In that sense, nothing has changed with Clemson’s ongoing Robert Nkemdiche saga.

It’s just a lot more public – and, potentially, a lot more embarrassing.

For the uninitiated, Nkemdiche is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., considered the Class of 2013’s top overall recruit and one of the best defensive ends in the past 20 years.

Three weeks ago, he stunned the college football recruiting world by committing to Clemson and Dabo Swinney while on an unofficial visit.

He became the third Grayson player to join Clemson’s Class of 2013, joining tailback Wayne Gallman and cornerback David Kamara, who had committed to the Tigers a day before Nkemdiche.

Nkemdiche made it clear that playing with his friends mattered; Clemson has since added another Grayson player, quarterback Nick Schuessler, who signed with Mississippi State in February but will enroll at CU this fall as a preferred walk-on.

Here’s the question Swinney and his staff must answer: how many of Nkemdiche’s friends does he need to feel comfortable?

Friday, the franchise recruit ignited a firestorm across recruiting message boards in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Nkemdiche told the AJC that if Clemson offers defensive back Ryan Carter a scholarship – one that Carter would surely accept – his recruitment “is locked, it’s a done deal, it’s over.”

While Gallman and Kamara are three-star prospects and likely contributors, Carter isn’t such a sure thing.

He stands 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, and while he has an offer from Ole Miss – which just happens to feature Nkemdiche’s older brother, Denzel, on its roster – his other offers are from Southern Miss, Tulane, Georgia State and Arkansas State.

And if the Tigers don’t offer?

“If Clemson doesn’t offer Ryan, it would make me look at Ole Miss a little more, it would,” he told the AJC. “It’s very important that I have my boys with me.”

Nkemdiche later tweeted that “I don’t like the ajc twisting up my words” and then said “I Never said any of those things but I guess the AJC will do anything for a story and to keep his job !”

Sunday, he told the New York Times that he hadn't given Swinney any ultimatum about offering Carter a scholarship.

“I hope he doesn’t feel obligated to offer anybody a scholarship because of my commitment," he told the Times. "Of course I would want to play with (Carter). But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll still go to Clemson.”

Nothing ties Nkemdiche to Clemson until he signs the national letter of intent on the first Wednesday of February 2013, so right now he’s trying to see just how much leverage he has with Swinney and Co.

Very publicly.

It is a potentially thorny situation for Clemson. The Tigers have Nkemdiche in the fold, but they also have a finite number of scholarships to hand out. In February, recruiting coordinator Jeff Scott said that Clemson would sign only 11-16 players in 2013. Attrition, including the departure of heralded tailback recruit Mike Bellamy, increases that number to around 20.

The Tigers already have 11 commitments; in addition, a pair of 2012 signees – defensive tackle Josh Brown and defensive back Cordrea Tankersley – will attend Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy as non-qualifiers and are expected to enroll in January, counting against 2013 scholarship numbers.

So what is it worth for them to increase the package deal in order to lock up Nkemdiche?

There are two ways to look at it: Clemson is recruiting a number of top athletes like No.1 cornerback prospect Kendall Fuller, No.1 defensive tackle prospect Montravius Adams and No.1 tailback Derrick Green.

Many more top prospects considered among the top 20 at their positions are also considering the Tigers.

If you take Carter, do you potentially shut the door on a top contributor because you took a defensive back who is no sure bet to make an impact in the ACC?

That said, many of those prospects are interested in Clemson because of Nkemdiche’s Pied Piper effect: success breeds success.

Package deals like the one Nkemdiche not-so-obliquely suggested are nothing new; programs have hired players’ coaches and parents for support roles for years and will continue to do so. Four years ago, Swinney himself inked star Jacksonville tailback Jamie Harper, now with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, after signing Harper’s teammate Daniel Andrews, a linebacker who made minimal impact in his four years on campus.

Clemson must decide how much Carter is worth. According to Clemson’s website, the value of a four-year out-of-state scholarship, including tuition, room and board, travel fees and a mandatory laptop computer, is $168,000.

It sounds like a lot, but consider this: the Tigers received a $22.3 million payout (to be split with other ACC programs) for appearing in the Orange Bowl. Payouts are expected to increase under college football’s new playoff system, as well.

If he lives up to his potential, Nkemdiche is the kind of player who can help those appearances become routine.

With those stakes, one extra scholarship seems like a pittance.

© 2012 OrangeAndWhite.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 17

savagetiger writes:

I didnt understand this. Are we really going to bend over backwards for one recruit? I know were going after the number 1 CB, RB and DT but what happens if we dont get them? Then were stuck with one great player and a bunch of nobodies. Anybody else feel what im saying?

DMD writes:

I think you must sign him if possible. Who knows, the kid he wants to bring may end up a great Tiger role player. There are far more of those on a team than stars ?

Also if you don't any top recruits ? Recruiting kids would not be an easy job ! I know how often my 17 year old changes his mind and for lord knows what reasons, imagine the way a recruiter feels.

TigerMarine writes:

I have a bad feeling on this one now ! Didn't see anything at all like this with Bowers or Clowney. Was 2 extra now its 4, what's next 2 years from now one of the 5 pops a drug test and they all transfer if its not swept under the rug? Then there's Clemson all over Sports Center in some BS scandal, THAT would hurt recruiting ! Starting to sound like negotiating with high school kids is as bad as negotiating with terrorists. As much as I hate to say it, might just wanna roll em on over to the tide.

omnipotent1 writes:

As soon as I read the article's title, I knew it was written by greg wallace. Do you work for korncoot?
As for you savage, I don't "feel" you. You obviously don't know anything about the 3 & 4 stars we are getting from Grayson. Carter probably will not be offered.
gw, you are a hack and a closet dirt*ecker.

TigerMarine writes:

If you read the NYTimes article in its entirety it does give a good impression Nkemdiche honestly isn't using "leverage"against the coaching staff. I hope these really are his feelings on it and it was like I initially thought just horrible journalism on the part of that Atlanta paper. At this point I'm just gonna shut up and hope for the best.

MoncksTater writes:

Adams , Fuller and Green arent looking at Clemson because Nkemdiche is onboard , they were interested for thier own reasons...that part of the article isn't on point . The rest of it is pretty solid though.

savagetiger writes:

in response to sennmanthetigerfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I didnt mean it like that. I was reffering to the lack of skills these 2 star kids have. They would be nobodies on the field. In case you havent noticed, Clemson plays big boy football. We play atleast two $EC teams every year and we always have tough schedule. I would feel better if we had guys who can contribute, instead of guys getting a free ride from there buddy. Dont get me wrong i want Rob. BAAAD, but i dont want people to think that Clemson is desperate and will do anything to get a recuit.

Terri (Inactive) writes:

This is the dark residue of wall-to-wall 'journalism' and the necessity of a dufus sportswriter to come up with a "story" that will grab attention, regardless of it's truthfullness, or lack thereof, or the true intent of the young, unguarded interviewee.....

The smarmy sportswriter for the AJC is undoubtedly a UGA J-School grad so he has THAT ax to grind and to heck with Robert's best interest.

He then prods and prods and then twists Robert's words and...presto...he has the 'big story'.

He also has embarrased Robert, embarrased the school needlessly, embarrased Ryan Carter, and made me sick to my stomach at the sight of his smarmy face on the AJC website.

Terri (Inactive) writes:

in response to Terri:

This is the dark residue of wall-to-wall 'journalism' and the necessity of a dufus sportswriter to come up with a "story" that will grab attention, regardless of it's truthfullness, or lack thereof, or the true intent of the young, unguarded interviewee.....

The smarmy sportswriter for the AJC is undoubtedly a UGA J-School grad so he has THAT ax to grind and to heck with Robert's best interest.

He then prods and prods and then twists Robert's words and...presto...he has the 'big story'.

He also has embarrased Robert, embarrased the school needlessly, embarrased Ryan Carter, and made me sick to my stomach at the sight of his smarmy face on the AJC website.

and made me sick to my stomach at the sight of his smarmy face on the AJC website.
...

Nauseous not at the site of Ryan...no,no,no.
Nauseous at the site of the 'sportswriter', Michael Carvell. Actually, this isn't a sports story, it is a hit job imo.

Ryan Carter has handled himself with class.

Now Carvell is backing off of his initial 'story'. Apparently he's been told that gotcha journalism is not the route to go.
In a Sunday post he acknowledges that Robert didn't make the statement in the manner that Carvell initially reported.

Tigernet.com has film of Ryan Carter.

HE IS NOT AFRAID TO GO HIT SOMEBODY.
He has above average speed(4.5).
He has excellent closing speed, and a nose for the ball.
This cloud may have a very silver lining.

savagetiger writes:

in response to sennmanthetigerfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ok lets just go after the two stars then lol?? Every heard of C.J Spiller, DaQuan Bowers or Sammy Watkins??? They were 5 stars, so dont give me the stars dont matter crap.

brookesdad729 writes:

So basically we're blowing out each other on a story that was inaccurate reporting! So the kid didn't actually say that? So what's the problem?

zilforreal writes:

Branch was also a 2 star. Package deals at Clemson are nothing new. Bringing in teammates who have offers at other D 1 schools might yield some return. There have been several package deals at Clemson in the past few years where Dabo let the kids play on a regular basis on special teams when there were better players available. Maybe the deals are worth it. There is going to be lots of negative pub on this though.

vatiger50 writes:

NEVER made a comment on any Tiger Board before but this story justified it. This story reminds me of a guy that got a SI swimsuit model to go steady with him (Sorry for the dated language) but heard thru a third party (Let's say for argument's sake another guy with ulterior motives) that she said he would need to really like her sister if it was going to last. So without getting her side of the story or the entire context of the conversation he goes apesh*t and assumes the worst. The moral of this story for all you Nimrods over 12 yrs. old is keep giving this NON-STORY legs and RN will figure all Tiger fans are this fair weather and hightail it to the SEC. GAWD what Dabo has to put up with!!!
PS to the OW writer, The State has an opening for a COOT reporter.

Tide726 writes:

in response to TigerMarine:

I have a bad feeling on this one now ! Didn't see anything at all like this with Bowers or Clowney. Was 2 extra now its 4, what's next 2 years from now one of the 5 pops a drug test and they all transfer if its not swept under the rug? Then there's Clemson all over Sports Center in some BS scandal, THAT would hurt recruiting ! Starting to sound like negotiating with high school kids is as bad as negotiating with terrorists. As much as I hate to say it, might just wanna roll em on over to the tide.

NOT SO FAST. I don't think so. Like some of the older people would say, "You make your bed, now lay in it". Sounds like Clemson has a serious situation on its hands. BAMA don't let recruits hold them hostage. Either you're good, or you're not. Good luck to Clemson. ROLL TIDE.

Tide726 writes:

in response to TigerMarine:

I have a bad feeling on this one now ! Didn't see anything at all like this with Bowers or Clowney. Was 2 extra now its 4, what's next 2 years from now one of the 5 pops a drug test and they all transfer if its not swept under the rug? Then there's Clemson all over Sports Center in some BS scandal, THAT would hurt recruiting ! Starting to sound like negotiating with high school kids is as bad as negotiating with terrorists. As much as I hate to say it, might just wanna roll em on over to the tide.

NOT SO FAST!! Like older people would say, "You make your bed, now lay in it". Sounds like Clemson has a situation on its hands. Good luck with that and wish you well. ROLL TIDE!!!

Bleedsorange writes:

Look at it this way....good or bad Ole Miss bit the bait and that kid probably has a full ride waiting on hIm right now (Nkemdiche's buddy I mean)

savagetiger writes:

in response to sennmanthetigerfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thats right! Theres been no swearing or "blowing out". Its fun when you can have a heated conversation with a classy tiger fan.

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