The battle for the consensus No. 1 prospect in the class of 2013 is winding down, with Ole Miss, LSU and now Florida battling for the services of Grayson (Ga.) High School defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
Nkemdiche's brother Denzel plays linebacker for Ole Miss, which is a big reason why the Rebels are considered the favorites to get the younger Nkemdiche's signature on national signing day. But where does LSU stand in the fight?
Les Miles and the Tigers have been in the battle from essentially day one, and according to NOLA.com, will be hosting the 6'4", 285-pounder on an official visit on Feb. 2—the weekend before national signing day.
So essentially, LSU has the last at-bat. Will the Tigers hit a home run and spring the recruiting upset?
I wouldn't count them out.
LSU has lost star defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery early to the NFL draft, and five of the six defensive ends on LSU's Chick-fil-A Bowl depth chart won't be with the program next season.
The Tigers have sent 11 defensive linemen to the NFL through the draft since Les Miles took over before the 2005 season, and that number is sure to increase this season when Mingo, Montgomery and defensive tackle Bennie Logan will all likely hear their names called.
That's a pretty strong selling point for the Tigers, especially considering their rebuilding years—one of which may be in 2013 after 10 players left early for the NFL—are few and far between.
I sat down with Nkemdiche in June, and left the interview with the impression that he really likes the staff. A lot of time has passed between since then, and his opinion could have changed. However, the reasons he gave for liking LSU—staff and scheme—haven't.
Don't get me wrong, Ole Miss is the favorite for a reason. Playing alongside his brother Denzel is obviously a major factor, and being a part of the new-look Rebels under second-year head coach Hugh Freeze is clearly selling well on the recruiting trail this offseason.
But don't count out LSU. The Tigers don't rebuild, they reload; and they could do both if they convince Nkemdiche to sign on the dotted line on Feb. 6.