College recruiting turns to rising senior class

Photo: David McGregor  Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche (1) drags three Collins Hill defenders down the field, including Austin Lewis (22), during the third quarter of the Rams' win over the Eagles on Friday night.

Photo: David McGregor Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche (1) drags three Collins Hill defenders down the field, including Austin Lewis (22), during the third quarter of the Rams' win over the Eagles on Friday night.

Robert Nkemdiche stood behind his friend and teammate Nick Schuessler on Wednesday wearing a Mississippi State T-shirt.

Don't worry college football fans, the standout Grayson defensive end hasn't made his college decision yet. He was wearing the shirt to support Schuessler, who signed with Mississippi State on National Signing Day.

"It's to support Nick. I like the school and I'm gonna go visit there, but it's no inclination," Nkemdiche said.

Nkemdiche is rated by recruiting services as the top high school junior in the country. Just days after Schuessler and more than 100 Gwinnett seniors signed scholarships, the focus now shifts to the talented rising senior class.

The group is led by Nkemdiche, who has scholarship offers from every major program in college football. There's also a nice group of about a dozen players behind the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder who have already drawn significant interest from colleges.

"It's a pretty big class and we're really talented," Nkemdiche said. "It's going to be a great class signing next year."

Trey Johnson is the county's only player committed for the 2013 signing class.

The Central Gwinnett junior linebacker, who led the county in tackles last season, committed to Auburn in the fall. Johnson is expected to be on the top end of Rivals Top 100, a list of the best players in the country.

Then there's Mill Creek's Kelsey Griffin, the best defensive lineman in the state you've never heard of because Nkemdiche gets all of the headlines at the position. The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder has offers from Auburn, Georgia and Florida State.

Those three alone have made college coaches drool over the county's talent.

"I've had college coaches come by and tell me this is the best senior class Gwinnett has ever seen," Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford said.

Nkemdiche, Johnson and Griffin are just the tip of the iceberg. Norcross running back Alvin Kamara has picked up a lot of attention from colleges since earning MVP honors in the Junior Bowl. He holds offers from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Clemson.

North Gwinnett's Devondre Seymour, who is the son of former UGA standout Richard Seymour, has an offer from Georgia. South Gwinnett linebacker Reginald Carter missed last season with a torn ACL, but had a dozen major offers as a sophomore. Buford offensive lineman Josh Cardiello, Grayson running back Wayne Gallman, and Peachtree Ridge receiver Joe Horn are also among the early players picking up high profile recruiting interest.

"I don't know what it is, maybe there's something in the milk," Wofford said. "These kids are bigger, faster and stronger and they are all in the same class."

Gwinnett hasn't had a national high-profile recruit like Nkemdiche since Caleb King signed with Georgia in 2007. King was rated the No. 1 player in Georgia that year and a top five running back in the nation. Before that it was Buford running back Darius Walker, who signed Notre Dame in 2004.

"It's just some sort of cycle," Wofford said. "You might have one or two really good players in each class, but it seems like this class has them all."

Walker drew out the recruiting process, receiving national interest. The same thing will likely happen with Nkemdiche, who doesn't plan to make a college decision anytime soon.

"It's going to be next year, 2013 is when I'll make my decision," Nkemdiche said. "I feel like during the first couple of months of the semester, all my attention is going to be on another state championship. After the season I'll start to make my decision."

In no particular order Nkemdiche lists Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Oregon and Southern California as his favorite schools.

All of the schools have been enticing Nkemdiche to come take a visit to their campus. He has nothing set up for now, but the next 12 months will be an exciting, grueling process for the nation's top player.

"I'm looking forward to it. I really haven't thought about it," Nkemdiche said. "I'm just trying to focus on the season and not me, but sooner or later it will be here and I'm ready."