Schools Warming Up to DT Theodore

While the Wolfpack coaching staff is still hot on the trail of some quality defensive line prospects, there is one New Jersey high school senior that could still join that list.

Defensive tackle Nhemie Theodore is having a tremendous season at Irvington (NJ) High School and has started receiving some major Division I offers now that he projects as a full qualifier.

Nhemie (pronounced "Nee-Mee") currently stands at 6'3", 285 lbs., but what many recruiters like most about him is that he is still growing. The young lineman just turned 17 years old, and could be headed toward another growth spurt. So how big could he get?

"He could grow another 2-3 inches, and he has the frame to put on another 20-30 pounds of muscle," said Irvington head coach Darnell Grant. "After he has another year or two to develop, whoever takes him will have a tremendous football player. There just aren't that many athletes with that kind of size."

Grant adds that Theodore also has quick feet and a great deal of speed (5.0-40) for a lineman of his size. And he is so skilled, Grant says, that he may be able to make a transition to offensive guard – a position at which some schools are recruiting him exclusively.

Through the first seven games of the season, Theodore has totaled 47 tackles, 6 ½ sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 12 tackles for loss. He leads one of the top defensive units in the state, holding opponents to an average of only 8.2 points per game. No team has run for over 100 yards or passed for over 150 yards against Irvington this season. In addition, Theodore has helped Irvington to a 6-1 record and its first berth in the NJ state playoffs for the first time since 1976.

Theodore transferred into Irvington last year after his previous school, East Orange (NJ) Essex Catholic, was closed due to lack of funding. At Irvington, he saw an opportunity to fill the position once occupied by current Rutgers freshman Nate Robinson, who was considered by many to be the best defensive tackle prospect in the nation last year. Thus far, Nhemie has done an admirable job of filling Robinson's shoes.

"When he came to us, we were a little skeptical because we already had Nate Robinson here," said Grant. "But he showed up and fit right in. He had six solo tackles, two sacks and two pressures in his first game."

"I was really surprised with how good he really is," added Grant. "He's right up there with Robinson and the rest. He's not as powerful as Nate was, but I think he understands the game better. He reads blocks better. He draws a double team nearly every time. You have to double-team him because he's nearly impossible to block."

While several schools have shown moderate interest in Nhemie over the past few months, Virginia Tech, Rutgers and, most recently, Tennessee have all offered scholarships. Other schools, such as Iowa, Penn State, Maryland, Virginia, UNC and NC State, have kept in touch with the young lineman, but it is unknown whether they will extend offers as well. He has no leaders at this point.

The Wolfpack appears to be in relatively good shape with other defensive line prospects, and they have not been in contact with Theodore lately. However, anything can happen between now and signing day.

So what would be the biggest factor in making his college decision? "Team prestige and location," said Theodore. "I want to get out of Jersey. Not just anywhere, but probably somewhere warmer down south, like maybe somewhere in North Carolina."

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