Offered DMV D-Tackle Could Decide Soon

One of the top defensive tackles on the board for the Blue Devils is Gaithersburg (Md.) Avalon School standout Axel Nyembwe.  The 6-foot-1, 300 pound senior recently spoke with TDD about his recruitment and when he may decide.

What do you sense is the perception of your overall skill set?

Honestly I’m just trying to prove myself as the best defensive lineman in the DMV area since I think I’m slept on a little bit. I’ve been to a couple of camps and I’ve done well and have heard good things from the coaches. It’s funny because my freshman year, I started playing football then for the first time and the offensive coordinator there told me to come in and try out football, so I went out there and played at left tackle on JV and I just started working on agility and different things, then I got up to varsity and I was like the backup right tackle and after that I started working out and things just came naturally because of my basketball ability also, and during the basketball season I was recommended that I was going to have to choose between basketball and football and I ended up choosing football. Then sophomore year I started at both offensive and defensive tackle and then I transferred and my new d line coach just really helped me a lot and I started just playing defensive tackle only this year and I started going to camps and getting offers. I took it really seriously this year.

What was the transition like for you in going to full time defensive tackle?

I just like defense more to be honest, it feels more natural for me to just go after the quarterback than blocking guys.

Do you have current vital stats you can share with us?

I’m 6-foot-2, 310 pounds and I don’t know my wingspan at this point, they tested it at Wake Forest but I don’t remember. When I was at Nike Camp I pulled my hamstring while running my first 40 there, so I don’t count it as a real 40 time since I was jogging for part of it when I pulled up with the hamstring pull.

Which college programs have you either had the opportunity to go compete at their camp or go for an unofficial visit?

Camps this year were Wake Forest where I got an offer right after that camp, then the next day I went to Duke and got an offer, then that next week I went to Ohio State camp, I got more offers that day from Rutgers, Toledo, Kent State, Buffalo and then I have a recent offer from Army. Right now I have visited Duke, really liked it, high on my list, I like UVA, my coach here is an alum of UVA and things are starting out well with Coach Bronco there who used to coach at BYU, so I really want to go see that again, then Rutgers I like too. I would like to get offers from Michigan State and Ohio State too. Notre Dame has also been to my school too, I wouldn’t mind getting an offer from them, but I haven’t really talked much with Michigan State, Ohio State or Notre Dame. Ohio State’s defensive line coach is close to my high school coach and they have talked about me, and he follows me on Twitter, so we’re going to see how that goes. They have a couple guys they have offered, but I think I’m close to getting an offer from them, we’ll see.

When I was at Duke and we weren’t even halfway through the camp is when Coach Cutcliffe offered me. I really like Duke, I’m very excited about them and my parents love Duke too.

Why do you think your parents love Duke so much and what do you personally like about them?

We both love it for the same reason with the academics. There’s life after football, so obviously a degree from Duke is going to take you a lot further in life, so that’s a big reason why we like it. I’m pretty sure Duke is just like different from all of these schools you know what I mean ? It’s an honor for me to have a Duke offer really because they don’t just come around with a lot of offers.

How did you feel about the Duke offer coming even before their camp was over that you were competing in?

I was kinda shocked because honestly I was a little bit tired from the day before and I was trying hard but I was thinking to myself that I might not get an offer from Duke, but then Coach Cut, it was during lunch and I was sitting down and one of the assistants came up to me and told me that the coaches wanted to talk to me, and it was just me and the head coach in his office and he told me that we would like to offer you and I was blown away, it was crazy. I was like wow, I just got an offer from Duke. Then he told me what a Duke offer means including that it covers full tuition and all that at $70,000 a year and I was blown away and he told me that the academics here are really strong and there’s a lot of connections with Duke, and UVA as well, but I think Duke is really known for their connections. I just kept telling myself that it was crazy that I got an offer from Duke. Like you know how I told you earlier that I’m a basketball player. Well, if you get a Duke offer, it’s like you are set.

Let’s talk about that conversation with Coach Cutcliffe, did he or the other coaches relay what prompted the offer?

They said I was the best defensive tackle they had seen all summer and they said they really want me very badly. Coach Cutcliffe said in that first conversation with me that they had really fallen in love with me as a player.

How’s the communication been with them since the camp where they offered you?

It’s gone very well, we talk every week but my phone recently broke and I’ve been using my sister’s phone which has caused me to not be able to talk with them as much, but I’m trying to get my phone fixed so I can. Before my phone broke, I had built a very close relationship with them and I talked with Coach Albert all the time. From what I know he had worked at Boston College and he helped them have the 6th best defense in the nation and he got guys to the League, so I’m really looking forward to working with him if I go to Duke. Coach Albert and I got some good time to talk when I was on campus again when I took an unofficial visit there. They were also running camp too and I’m looking to go back up there and have some more talks with them as well.

When did you get to do the unofficial visit to Duke separate from the camp you competed in there?

I don’t know the exact date, so I got the Duke offer on the 5th or something like that, then the next week I went to Ohio State and then the following week after that I went back to Duke for the visit. I talked with all the d line coaches, Coach Cutcliffe and I got to do a tour of the whole school, I went to Cameron Indoor and got to see all of that, saw Coach K, I saw Jahlil Okafor too and then I went back after that and had lunch with the d line coaches, then I finished my day off with Coach Albert in his meeting room and he talked with my dad.

Where do you think you are in how you feel about Duke and where do you see the process heading next with them?

I think it’s still early in my recruitment since I just started getting offers, but they are really high on my list right now, I don’t want to make a quick decision because before I was thinking about making a decision quickly, but I would say that Duke is #1 on my list at this time. That’s based on my relationship with them and they are the only school I’ve really visited, so I can only go off of what I’ve seen.

How much have you talked with Duke or any other schools about what’s going on with recruiting in your class?

Oh yeah, I’ve talked to Duke and UVA and they are close on closing their classes, so they really want me to commit, but Rutgers just really wants me to visit and come down and meet with their coaches, so they haven’t been trying to get me to commit, it’s been more a steady pace with them. Duke and UVA, they want me now. I want to see who is out there, but I might be committing soon, probably before the season starts, so maybe July/August, maybe within the next month or August or September.

Which schools do you think you will likely be deciding between?

Duke, UVA and I would say Rutgers is in there as well.

Are there different things that you like about each of those schools, or with Duke being your leader at this point that that represents that they have a potential edge at this point?

I like different things about each school. They are all different kinds of coaching staffs. Like Coach Cutcliffe is more an older coach, a back in the day type of coach who knows what he’s doing and knows how to get it done. Coach Bronco has been winning lately, UVA is rich in tradition and Rutgers is a Big 10 school, so why wouldn’t you want to play in the Big 10 if you are a defensive lineman ?They have a whole new coaching staff there and I like one of them, they all have different things that I like about each of those schools. Duke is in the lead I would say. I’m also good friends and I talk with Damani Neal who is a Duke commit from my class and I also know a player who is already there, Myles Hudzick from my area.

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