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December 26, 2011

The first five-stars: Robert Nkemdiche

MORE: 2012 Rivals250 | Rankings index

They are the best of the best. The players that are wanted by every program and destined to make a big impact at the college level and beyond.

Rivals.com has identified the first five-star prospects for the 2013 class and is unveiling them this week. Ten prospects have been awarded five-stars but are not ranked at this time and we will profile two each day. The first player to receive the five-star spotlight is Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.

5 stars: Robert Nkemdiche
Nkemdiche has back-to-back 19-sack seasons.
Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Loganville (Ga.) Grayson

Attributes: 6-5, 260, 4.60 40, 340-pound bench

Top schools: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Oregon, South Carolina

Scouting Report: Nkemdiche is the rare prospect that not only has a great frame, terrific instincts, solid athleticism, sound technique and a high football IQ, but plays the game with great energy seemingly at all times. For a 260-pounder, he is incredibly lean and carries little, if any bad weight. Few prospects look as good in pads. Nkemdiche can be effective on the line, or when dropping into coverage, and that versatility is one of his greatest assets. His quickness is simply too much for many offensive linemen to handle. Although he often is double and triple-teamed, he has the ability to consistently find creases in the line and rapidly accelerate through them to blow up a play. He has the speed to create problems on the edge for tackles, and the strength to be an effective bull-rusher. If Nkemdiche can't disrupt things in the backfield, he can go in the other direction and use his speed to chase down a ball carrier.

Analyst's take: "With Nkemdiche, so many things stand out. The first is his body, which is better than a lot of guys already in the NFL. Next is his athleticism. He runs and turns like a safety, which is rare for someone his size. And his first step is as explosive as you'll find at the high school level. Then there's his versatility. Nkemdiche plays numerous positions for his high school team. Given his size and skills, his current coach thinks his best fit at the next level is either as a 5 technique or as a stand-up outside linebacker (9 technique), and it's hard to argue that. With Nkemdiche, the other thing you have to like is his passion and aggressiveness. In fact, that's really what pushes him to the next level. When you speak with Nkemdiche, you get the sense nothing less than being the best player in the country will satisfy him." - Keith Niebuhr, Southeast Analyst, Rivals.com

Why he's a five-star: "Nkemdiche is a freak of nature, a huge kid who runs like a defensive back and hits like a nose tackle. He can play so many positions, be moved around so much on defense that we could be looking at a 3 technique defensive lineman or an outside linebacker at 260-plus pounds in a 3-4 set. He comes off the edge so fluidly, he takes on blockers well and he hustles across the field to get into plays. There's not much he can't do if he continues to work hard and develop." - Mike Farrell, National Analyst, Rivals.com

His coach says: "The thing with Robert is, he can do so many different things. The kid can play up front on the offensive line if you need him, then go back and be a free safety. He's that talented. He can go back at tailback and you can toss him the ball, then he can go to tight end and you can throw it to him. You can even slip him on a corner and throw the fade, and he'll go get it. There's nothing this kid can't do on the football field. In college, I think he's going to be the kind of player in the 3-4 scheme that'll probably be an outside linebacker, and when they drop into the nickel he'll put his hand on the ground. He'll be like a Lawrence Taylor-type of player that comes off the edge and wreaks havoc on the QB and disrupts the run." - Grayson coach Mickey Conn

Odds and ends: When Nkemdiche began playing football in the seventh grade, he was a running back. He didn't see his first action on the defense line until his freshman year of high school…. Nkemdiche recorded 19 sacks in 2010 and 19 more in 2011, when he helped lead Grayson to the Class AAAAA state title. In the final, he led all players with 85 rushing yards…..Nkemdiche's coach, Mickey Conn, played his college ball at Alabama.

NFL player comparison: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys



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