Top recruit’s mom talks Clemson, Ole Miss and love of Alabama


In June of this year, Robert Nkemdiche, the consensus No. 1 recruit on the Class of 2013, surprised some by verbally committing to Clemson over the likes of Alabama and Ole Miss.

That decision didn’t sit well with the defensive lineman’s mother, who told ESPN the Magazine in September that the verbal “is not final” and that she’s “unhappy with Clemson” being her son’s current school of choice.  Instead, Beverly Nkemdiche favored Ole Miss, where another of her sons, Denzel, is a standout member of the Rebels football team.

Nearly two months later, mom is still leery of Clemson… still likes Ole Miss because of the sibling connection… and really, really, really likes the defending BcS champions.

In an expansive interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mrs. Nkemdiche, who is a government official in Nigeria, further fine-tuned her stance on the three main contenders vying for her son’s immense football talents:

On Ole Miss…

“Every parent would really want [their kids to play together in college]. It’s my wish for it to happen, but I’m not going to put pressure on anybody. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, OK. But I would really love for them to play together.”

“If they play together, it would make more sense. The twins that play for UGA, they play together and they [complement] one another. It’s the Ogletree twins, and they play together for UGA. I watched them this past week (against Florida) for the first time, and I kind of liked that. I want to see my boys play together like that, also. There’s nothing so wrong in a mother wanting both boys to play together.”

On Clemson…

“I’ve not talked to anybody from Clemson’s team. I don’t want to go there because that’s out of my way. There is nothing that would take me there.”

“But like I said, Clemson is out of the way for me. There is nothing that would take me there. It’s not like it’s a bad school or whatever.”

On Alabama…

“My No. 1 team is Alabama. That’s one school I truly love, Alabama. But I don’t have [a] child in Alabama to take me to Alabama.”

“Alabama has a good football team. And they’re solid. They have good academics. Right now, they are undefeated. And I’ve stayed in stayed in touch with their coach on Facebook. He is a good person. I like the school but again, I would prefer for Denzel and Robert to play together.”

One of the biggest takeaways from the interview is that while she remains leery of the recruiting process as it relates to Clemson — “I would think that he was probably pressured to do it, to commit” — Nkemdiche’s mother would speak to Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney if he were to reach out via the telephone, although, again, a campus visit isn’t in the cards as she doesn’t “want to travel around just to go see a school.”

Mrs. Nkemdiche continued to stress she’s “not putting pressure on” her son to play at a particular school, that “it’s our understanding that Robert can go to any school that he wants to go to.”

As long as it’s Ole Miss or Alabama and not Clemson, it seems.

With National Signing Day a little over three months away, it remains to be seen whether Swinney and his coaching staff can maintain Nkemdiche’s verbal commitment — especially if they can’t flip the mom’s current stance.

Central Michigan adds former Oregon State interim coach Cory Hall to staff

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After coaching the second half of the season for Oregon State in 2017, Cory Hall is now making his way to the MAC. Hall has officially been added to the Central Michigan coaching staff, where he will serve as the team’s secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator.

“We brought Cory in, and he made a presentation to the defensive coaching staff,” CMU head coach John Bonamego said in a released statement. “(Defensive coordinator) Greg Colby and the rest of us were impressed with his preparation and what he had to say. “There is no doubt he is a high-energy coach, and he’s a great fit for our program.”

Hall was named the interim head coach at Oregon State midway through the 2017 season following the removal of Gary Andersen. According to The Oregonian, Hall did not interview with new Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith to remain a part of the Beavers coaching staff in 2018.

Steven Montez throws 2 TDs, 2 INT in Colorado spring game

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Spring football practices concluded for the Colorado football program on Saturday with the playing of the annual spring game. Starting quarterback Steven Montez had his ups and downs with three total touchdowns and a pair of interceptions thrown in the scrimmage.

Montez led six and a half drives during the game, ending his day going 8-of-15 for 90 yards and two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He was also the leading rusher in the scrimmage with three carries for 43 yards. Co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini shrugged off the two picks by Montez after the game in a postgame interview.

“That’s going to happen, especially if we’re calling stuff that’s aggressive, it’s going to happen,” Chiaverini said. “What I like about him is he comes right back. It doesn’t bother him. Some guys get shy and won’t let it go. He comes right back in that two-minute drill and pulls the ball and runs for 60 yards. I like the fact that the kid loves to play football. That’s something you can’t teach kids. He loves to play, he loves to compete.”

Montez completed 609.5 percent of his passes in 2017 for 2,975 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions.

Colorado is coming off a 5-7 season, a year removed from playing for the Pac-12 championship in 2016. Colorado ended the 2017 season on a three-game losing streak to prevent the Buffs from being able to play in a bowl game at the end of the year.

Colorado estimates a total of about 4,500 fans attended the live scrimmage.

UCF, Lane Kiffin, Neal Brown among college football underdogs celebrating NCAA Tournament madness

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The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been a joy to watch over the course of the first few days. Highlighted by some significant upsets and some thrilling finishes, this year’s tournament has everybody talking, including college football coaches. This is especially true for college football’s non-power conference programs, who seem to be celebrating the upsets performed early on by schools like Marshall, Loyola-Chicago and, of course, UMBC.

UCF took to Twitter to extend congratulations to the University of Maryland Baltimore County after the 16-seed Retrievers became the first team in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s history to upset a No. 1 seed, in which UMBC throttled No. 1 Virginia by 20 after an unbelievable second-half performance that left Virginia clueless how to respond.

UMBC has been the story of the first round for the historic upset of the Cavaliers, but FAU head coach Lane Kiffin claims he picked UMBC to win the game. In fact, Kiffin showed off a bracket in which he picked UMBC to win it all. Of course, such a bracket cannot be taken too seriously, especially after closer inspection reveals Kiffin went heavy with the underdog mentality throughout his bracket. Perhaps such a bracket strategy plays into the kind of mentality Kiffin is attempting to build at FAU.

Troy coach Neal Brown also used the UMBC upset to make a case for the Group of Five representation in college football to get more of a fair shake in the sport of college football.

Brown is not the only person to have this thought, although the idea has just as many on the other side of the fence as well. The College Football Playoff is a much smaller system to determine a college football champion and expansion is a hot-button topic of conversation for a variety of reasons. The current format allows for one guaranteed spot in a major bowl game for the highest-ranked conference champion from the non-power conferences, but undefeated UCF was still left out of the College Football Playoff last season and it may be a long time before a non-power conference champion gets a shot at the playoff.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach has proposed a 64-team college football playoff, but the most likely step for expansion of the playoff system will double the field to eight teams. That would still likely leave out some top non-power conference options, but it would leave the door open just a little wider for a team like UCF last year.

Former Navy LB Caleb King killed in fighter jet crash

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A routine U.S. Navy training flight that ended in tragedy had a college football connection.

Earlier this week, two Navy aviators were killed when a fighter jet crashed off the coast of Key West, Florida, this past Wednesday.  Those who lost their lives were, according to the Associated Press, Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King, who served in the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VFA-213).  Johnson was the pilot of the aircraft.

“[T]he aircraft crashed on final approach to Boca Chica Field following a training mission,” wrote.  While details are scant at the moment, below is from that website’s report:

The crash happened around 4:30 p.m., Hecht said. Both pilots onboard the Super Hornet ejected, he said. Initially, Hecht said a search-and-rescue effort for the aircrew was still ongoing around 6 PM, but later he said the pilots were recovered within minutes and taken by ambulance to the medical center.

An eyewitness, Barbie Wilson, told the crash “looked like something out of a movie.”

Wilson, who lives on the back side of the air station, said she stopped to watch an F/A-18 flying overhead, as she often does, and was shocked to see what appeared to be a massive malfunction in midair.

“Literally, the wings went vertical, and there was a fireball, and it just literally dropped out of the sky,” Wilson said.

King (pictured, left) was a linebacker for the Midshipmen football team from 2009-11.  He played in 38 games during his time at the military academy.

“Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the entire King family,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said in a statement. “We lost a dear brother and warrior. The entire Navy Football Brotherhood mourns the passing of a great American. We love you Caleb!”