February 26, 2012

Nkemdiche gets rock star treatment in Oxford

Robert Nkemdiche arrived in the right field bleachers at Swayze Field Saturday.

The crowd, some 9,000-plus strong on a sun-drenched north Mississippi afternoon enjoying the weather and Ole Miss' victory over UNC-Wilmington, roared.

Nkemdiche assumed he had arrived just as a Rebel hitter crushed a home run. Quickly, the nation's No. 1-ranked football prospect realized the applause was intended for him.

"It was crazy," Nkemdiche said, laughing. "It was like Michael Jackson."

"It was worse than a circus," Fennell said. "We went to the baseball game and they started applauding. We never really saw anything like this. People were taking pictures with him. It was great. They welcomed him really well."

Kamara, who is also drawing interest from Alabama, Florida and Vanderbilt, said he's used to seeing Nkemdiche receive a celebrity's welcome on visits to college campuses, but the reception in Oxford was different.

"It was crazy," Kamara said. "They were taking pictures with him and all of that. We're kind of used to it. It's like that everywhere, but at Ole Miss, it was crazier."

The right field reception was a sign of things to come for the remainder of the weekend. Nkemdiche, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Loganville (Grayson), Ga., got the rock star treatment everywhere he went during his 36-hour unofficial visit to Ole Miss.

"It was good," Nkemdiche said late Sunday, as he, his father and two Grayson teammates _ cornerback David Kamara and running back David Fennell _ traveled back to Georgia. "I talked to the coaches and the players and went to the game. People applauded me. I felt comfortable there.

"All kinds of people were coming up to me. Even when I was walking on The (downtown) Square, people wanted pictures and autographs. It was crazy. It made me feel welcomed. I liked it a lot."

Nkemdiche spent the weekend with his older brother, Ole Miss redshirt freshman safety Denzel Nkemdiche.

"He's going to recruit me pretty hard, but he wants me to go where I want to go," Nkemdiche said.

The weekend was Nkemdiche's first opportunity to meet new Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.

"It was a great experience," Nkemdiche said. "We talked about some things. I got a chance to talk to some of the other coaches there. I liked them a lot."

FENNELL LIKES OXFORD: Fennell, a running back/cornerback prospect who suffered a back injury last season and missed all of his junior season, had high praise for the new Ole Miss staff as well.

"We felt a great presence with the coaches," Fennell said. "It was great. I think they're going to do big things down there. They sounded confident about what they're going to do. …I pulled a coach to the side and told them I would love to play there with David and Robert."

Fennell said Ole Miss coaches looked at his film over the weekend and told him they thought he projected as a cornerback on the college level.

"I love football so much, so I will try to do anything," Fennell said.

KAMARA: REBELS 'IN THE PICTURE': Kamara left Ole Miss without an offer, but he said the Rebels' secondary coach, Wesley McGriff, told him he liked his tape and wanted to see more of him.

"The coaches were good," said Kamara, who plans to attend a junior day at Vanderbilt next month. "They seem dedicated to turn it around and get it to a high level."

Ole Miss, Kamara said, is very much "in the picture" following the weekend in Oxford.

"Denzel is there and Robert is one of my best friends and I know Ole Miss is one of his top places," Kamara said. "We'd love to all go together."

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