Robert Nkemdiche

Consensus No. 1 2013 recruit commits to Clemson


As one of the nation’s top running backs in the Class of 2013 proved Wednesday, a verbal commitment literally means nothing until pen is put to LOI paper in February.

That said, Clemson just landed a huge verbal “nothing”.

As first reported by TigersIllustrated.comand later confirmed by multiple recruiting websites, five-star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche gave his nonbinding verbal commitment Thursday to Dabo Swinney‘s Tigers (So much for the Big 12 talk impacting their efforts on the recruiting trail, eh?).  Two of Nkemdiche’s high school teammates have already committed to the Tigers, but the move is nonetheless surprising in both its timing and the school selected.

Back in early May, and roughly 10 days before a scheduled announcement was set to take place, the Loganville (Ga.) senior-to-be bid an about-face by stating that he would be delaying his decision so he could focus on his final season of high school ball.

“I’m probably going to try to take all my official visits, and then pick the best school,” Nkemdiche said over a month ago. “I probably won’t take any visits during the season because I want to stay focused on my main goal — and that’s helping our team win another state championship. I’ll probably wait until after the season and then go visit schools and stuff.”

At the time of that announcement, Clemson wasn’t even considered one of the front-runners.  That honor fell to Alabama and Ole Miss — his brother, redshirt freshman defensive back Denzel Nkemdiche, plays for the Rebels — with Clemson, Georgia and LSU perceived to be perhaps a step below those two SEC programs on the 6-5, 250-pounder’s collegiate to-do list.… and… and all have Nkemdiche as the top-rated prospect in the Class of 2013.

The only problem for Swinney and his coaching staff in landing the consensus No. 1-rated player in the nation?  They have to hold on to Nkemdiche’s verbal for nearly eight months by fending off the likes of, among others, Nick Saban.

Good luck with that, Dabo.

(Photo credit: Loganville Grayson (Ga.) High School)

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah