Back Home

ATLANTA, Ga. - Atlanta, the site of the Ole Miss-TCU Peach Bowl, is home for Rebel sophomore Defensive Tackle Robert Nkemdiche and not only was he happy to start the season here against Boise State, he can't wait to finish it here against the Horned Frogs.

Robert Nkemdiche needs no introduction to Ole Miss fans.

The stalwart sophomore defensive tackle for the Rebels earned All-American recognition in just his second year of collegiate ball.

He has changed a lot in his two short years as a Rebel, but what hasn't changed are his deep feelings for his home town, Atlanta.

"I've grown up a lot since I left here," Robert said after Saturday's Peach Bowl practice at Georgia State. "I've grown to love Oxford and Ole Miss, but Atlanta is where I am from and I will always love it here too.

"It's crazy and exciting to be back here. In high school, we played quite a bit in the Georgia Dome and I'm looking forward to our game with TCU in the Dome. I can't wait. We're having great practices and we will be ready to play."

Nkemdiche didn't put up monster numbers in 2014, but football people, the ones who really know, understand his value to the Rebels and his prowess on the football field.

Consequently, some second team All-American honors came his way.

"I'm proud, but I have to give it to my team really. Guys like Senquez, Gross, Bird, D.T., Cody, Marquis - any of them and more, could have been All-American and a couple of them were. Anything I get individually directly reflects back to our team and our defense," he explained.

His attention turned quickly to the TCU offense, who is second in the nation in scoring at a 46.8 points per game clip.

"Their numbers are staggering. 6,500 yards of total offense, 307 or something in that range of first downs," he smiled. "It all starts with their quarterback Trevone Boykin - he is really, really good. He's very athletic.

"We have to stay in our rushing lanes and not try to do too much to contain him. When you start trying to do something extra, it creates lanes for him to run in and that's when he is really dangerous."

The possibility of a 10-win season is not lost on Nkemdiche.

"We feel we could have done a little better, but it's life in the SEC. We are proud and thankful for what we have accomplished, but we have another opportunity for validation. We gained some in the Egg Bowl, but we want more. Ten wins has a nice ring to it," he noted. "We have that opportunity. A win in the Peach Bowl and we end the season the right way and set ourselves up for more good things next year."

Individually, Robert was not disappointed in his play in 2014, but he felt there are things he can improve on.

"You can always improve. I have come a long way from my freshman year with my technique and I always had my motor going. I freed up some guys to make tackles and I was disruptive a good bit of the time," Robert said. "Next year, there are a lot of little things I can do better, mostly mental. I want to become more a student of the game, learning formations better and other little things that will give me an edge."

Meanwhile, the only thing on his mind is enjoying home and getting ready to play a big game against another big opponent.

"I'm having fun. I love bowl games. We get to spend a lot of time with our team, our friends and our family. It doesn't get any better," he closed, "but we have a job to do. We are here to win a football game and that's priority number one."

Besides Vaught-Hemingway, there's no place Robert Nkemdiche had rather shine than in the Georgia Dome, his familiar home turf.

He'll get that chance New Year's Eve.


OM Spirit Top Stories