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

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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.

Ohio State DL Darius Slade to transfer

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In a day packed full of Big Ten moves becoming official, Ohio State has added a roster move of its own.

Urban Meyer revealed at the conference’s media gathering in Chicago on Monday that defensive lineman Darius Slade will not return to the team.

A 3-star recruit out of Montclair, N.J., Slade (42) redshirted in 2014 and missed the ’16 campaign with a lower leg injury. He racked up seven appearances in 2015.

Slade was expected to back up Sam Hubbard at defensive end.

Meyer said that he “thinks” Slade is off to Arizona State. If that’s true, Slade would have two years of eligibility to play as a Sun Devil unless the NCAA approved a waive for him.

Indiana RB Camion Patrick, LB T.J. Simmons medical hardships

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Indiana running back Camion Patrick and linebacker T.J. Simmons will not return to the team this fall after being granted medical hardships, the program announced Monday. Both players would be fifth-year seniors in 2017.

Simmons appeared in 37 games with 35 starts before suffering a season-ending injury that knocked him out of the 2016 campaign entirely. He collected 213 tackles, six sacks, 16.5 TFLs, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a Hoosier. Simmons will remain with the program as a student assistant.

“T.J. was a three-year starter and a tough kid that I was looking forward to coaching,” head coach Tom Allen said in a statement. “He did everything that he could to get himself back from his knee injury, but he was unable to reach a place where he could consistently play. T.J. is excited about his new role as a student assistant coach in the weight room and on the field. He will be helping his teammates get better. T.J. has such a passion for the game and this program, and I am thrilled to have him help us breakthrough.”

Patrick arrived from East Mississippi Community College — of Last Chance U. fame — and proceeded to sustain injuries to his ACL and a shoulder. He caught six passes for 154 yards with one receiving touchdown and one rushing score for Indiana.

“Unfortunately, Camion dealt with multiple injuries during his time at IU and was never able to fully recover,” Allen said. “He has worked hard in the classroom. Camion has battled to get back following each injury, but his body has let him down. He recognizes that. We recognize that, and we want to help him finish strong in the classroom and help him create a bright future for himself.”

Penn State K Joey Julius no longer with the team

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Joey Julius was everyone’s favorite kickoff specialist last season. Sadly, he won’t be your favorite kickoff specialist in 2017.

At Big Ten media days on Monday, the Nittany Lions unveiled their 2017 roster and Julius was not on it.

Listed at 5-foot-10, 258 pounds, Julius announced in May he would seek treatment for an eating disorder.

“I have been struggling over the last couple months with my eating disorder,” he announced at the time. “It got to the point where I had to return to St. Louis to seek further treatment at the McCallum place. Recovery is a wonderful and beautiful thing that I am working on returning too.”

Julius handled 93 kickoffs for the 2016 Big Ten champions, averaging 62.1 yards per kick with 45 touchbacks. His kickoff average ranked 47th nationally, and his 48.4 touchback percentage was 40th in FBS. Julius made 10-of-12 field goals and 20-of-24 extra points in 2015 before ceding the job to Tyler Davis last season.

 

Urban Meyer on College Football Playoff loss to Clemson: That ship has sailed, it’s gone

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Ohio State may have won the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship, but its most recent trip to the postseason tournament was not nearly as much fun. The Buckeyes were blanked by eventual national champion Clemson, 31-0. Asked whether or not that plays into the mental approach to the upcoming 2017 season, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer suggested that loss is no longer thought about.

“That ship has sailed. It’s gone,” Meyer said. “Professionally, it changed how we do some business on offense, and we’re moving forward.”

Ohio State has added former Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson as offensive coordinator, with Meyer noting that Wilson is the first offensive coordinator to be brought into Meyer’s program as a head coach (all others have been promoted from within). Meyer acknowledged that more of the offensive management has been put in the hands of Wilson, which supports the thought that things have changed with the offense in 2017.

Ohio State is a heavy favorite among media members covering the Big Ten to win the conference this season, and the Buckeyes will likely be viewed as a playoff contender. Regardless, how last season ended has to leave an empty feeling that needs to be fulfilled this fall, whether Meyer wants to use it as fuel or not.

“It’s the back of everyone’s mind,” Meyer said. “Whether I use that in training camp or not is to be determined.”