Ole Miss Suspends Nkemdiche For Sugar Bowl

Ole Miss standout defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche will not play against Oklahoma State in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and announced Sunday that his college career is finished as he will declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.

I honestly felt that Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze would play standout defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche following his arrest in Atlanta last weekend after he broke a glass window in the room of a luxury hotel and crawled out falling a reported 15 feet and suffering multiple lacerations. Authorities in Atlanta charged Nkemdiche with possession of marijuana after seven rolled marijuana cigarettes were found in that same hotel room.

Freeze said in a statement that he and athletic director Ross Bjork told Nkemdiche of the suspension last week and that Ole Miss "will continue to support him as he prepares for the next chapter in his life."

The 6-4, 296-pound Nkemdiche, who has an older brother that is a starting senior at outside linebacker, declared himself as an early draftee for the NFL on Sunday following news of the suspension was made public.

"While I wish I could have finished this journey with my team, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this program, and I am ready to begin the next phase of my life," Nkemdiche said in a statement. "I have learned a valuable lesson in the last week, and I look forward to showing NFL personnel that this is not representative of my true character. I want to thank my coaches, my teammates and Rebel Nation for their support these past three years, and I look forward to making them proud for years to come."

Freeze also told media that he looked forward to sharing with NFL scouts, coaches and administrators the caliber of person and player Nkemdiche is and what he did for the Ole Miss program. This season Nkemdiche had 29 tackles, 13 of those unassisted, 7.0 tackles for loss for -39 yards, and 3.0 sacks for -19 yards in losses. He also had seven quarterback hurries and one blocked kick. 

The knock against Nkemdiche by some college football analysts and NFL Draft evaluators is that his effort doesn't always match his outstanding talent. This past week ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said that Nkemdiche should be one of the top two or three, maybe the top defensive line prospect in the draft and that if no other activity off the field comes up before the draft that the incident in Atlanta will be forgotten by draft day.

Nkemdiche is backed up at defensive tackle by now likely starter in redshirt freshman Brandon Speaks. The 6-3, 313-pound Speaks played in all 12 games this season and started two of those including the LSU game. He had 30 tackles (one more than Nkemdiche), 13 unassisted, 5.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, and three quarterback hurries.  

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