If you follow college football recruiting, you probably already knew that the consensus top player in the country for the class of 2013 is Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche is a 6'5, 260 pound defensive end who moonlights at running back for Coach Mickey Conn's team. Conn is a former Alabama offensive lineman, and it has long been thought that Alabama was the clear leader for his star player's services, though LSU has also made a strong push. Nkemdiche had been set to announce his decision on May 18th, which really didn't make much difference to Georgia Bulldog fans, most of whom long ago assumed that the big guy would be committing somewhere else and that Georgia would only have a chance if something serious happened to shake his faith in his top choice*.
But things may have changed, as we'll discuss after the jump.
Robert Nkemdiche has now announced that he will not in fact be announcing his college decision on May 18th. In fact, it appears that he may even wait until Signing Day 2013. I agree with SB Nation's recruiting sensai Bud Elliott that this is the right call for Nkemdiche. Announcing a decision now was not going to end the recruiting process for him. When you're perhaps the most sought-after prospect in the Peach State in the past decade, the coaches aren't going to stop calling until the ink's dry on the letter of intent. The best thing for the young man to do is to take his time and make the right decision for he and his family. For some lesser recruits the best thing is not to "play the game", it's to look the coach in the eye, tell him you want to be a [your mascot here] and ask when you can get started on the conditioning program and play book. Because otherwise your scholarship offer goes to someone else. Nkemdiche can be as picky as he wants to be.
What does this mean for Georgia Bulldog partisans? A couple of things. For one, it means that we can get set to hear for another few months about how the top player in the country lives 45 minutes from Athens, yet Mark Richt and crew have been behind for his services from day one. That stinks. However, that's about the only potential downside. On the upside this gives that same Bulldog coaching staff a chance to catch up. To remind Nkemdiche of how much easier it will be for his parents to get to Athens than to Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa. For him to hear rumors of Nick Saban going back to the NFL. For Georgia's defense to lead the squad to a banner season in 2012. Again, when you're not in first place being told that the race just got a little longer can't hurt.
As Mike Carvell of the AJC points out, Georgia was at least as far behind for Jordan Jenkins' services this time last year before Todd Grantham convinved him that Athens was the place to be. Stranger things have happened than for a guy like Robert Nkemdiche to decide that he wants to join a dominant defense close to home, playing for a coordinator with solid NFL experience. I still think turning him is a long shot. But as a general rule, the longer any recruitment goes on the better the chances for the home state school. So if you were looking forward to not hearing about Robert Nkemdiche, prepare to be disappointed. If you were hoping the Bulldogs would have a bit more time to try to secure his services, you just got your wish. Until later . . .
* Like Kirby Smart's inevitable ascension to the head coaching position at Tennessee. Inevitable Dooley firing is inevitable.