Ole Miss defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche won’t be joining his teammates in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma State. In fact, he may never suit up in an Ole Miss uniform again.
According to Ben Garrett of Ole Miss Spirit, Nkemdiche will not play in the Sugar Bowl, and the decision was not made by the player. That would strongly suggest head coach Hugh Freeze has decided to suspend his once prized defensive lineman recruit for the bowl game. This result is not at all a shock given the recent reports out of Atlanta with Nkemdiche falling through a hotel window and being charged for marijuana possession in Atlanta last week.
With Nkemdiche reportedly preparing for the NFL Draft, that would seem to suggest he is already focused on taking his game to the next level and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft, although nothing official has been announced. Should he end up turning pro, he will be among the top defensive linemen in the draft pool for any NFL franchise looking to add some bodies to the defensive line. Regardless of the incident in atlanta, Nkemdiche appeared to be a possible early draft entrant in 2016.
As noted in recent days by Pro Football Talk, Todd McShat of ESPN does not feel the Atlanta incident will have a dramatic impact on Nkemdiche’s draft stock.
“Assuming that he doesn’t have any issues between now and the draft and assuming that what has been reported is the story and assuming there’s not a major dependency issue, my guess is we’ll have close to have forgotten about it come draft time,” McShay said. “Again, there’s a lot of ‘ifs’ in there, and I’m not saying it’s not a big deal or not an issue at all. But I’m saying if he does everything right between now and then and if everything checks out and there’s not a bigger issue out there, I think the talent will prevail.”
Talent always finds a way.