There was a strange feeling to Saturday's game at Death Valley.
A father's perspective
Speculation immediately surfaced that he would commit to Ole Miss sooner rather than later. Understandable, of course. His older brother, Denzel, has been a breakout performer for the Rebels as a redshirt freshman linebacker.
Robert didn't make a commitment over the weekend, the latest in a number of visits he's made to Ole Miss throughout the recruitment process. However, he may not be far off.
"Our thing is he's going to make it soon, before signing day. I know his heart is here, so I know he's going to make his decision before signing day," Sunny said. "I would say before the New Year he's going to make a decision. I know Ole Miss is right up there."
As has been widely reported, Nkemdiche's mother, Beverly, wants her sons to play football together in college. Beverly is a state legislator in her native Nigeria. She visits the United States but a few times each year to reunite with her family.
Many stories have been written in regards to Beverly and her wishes, some critical of her insistence in Robert joining Denzel at Ole Miss. Sunny respects her stance.
"There's just bonds between sons and mothers," he said. "She wants to see her sons play for the same school. I respect that. Mothers are very emotional about their kids. It's what a mother does best.
"The preference is for them to play together. It would save the trouble of having to go to different schools. It's a preference. I wish that would come true."
Sunny admitted he takes any criticism of the decision-making process involving Robert personal. Even still, he's focused on one thing and one thing only.
"The most important thing is the family," he said. "What's best for the family? People will have their opinion, but the most important thing is the family, so that's what I'm looking at."
Ole Miss is 5-5 on the year and 2-4 in Southeastern Conference games following its loss to Vanderbilt. Despite the loss, Sunny said Robert sees improvement in the Rebels under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze.
Ole Miss was 2-10 a year ago.
"They've shown the effort on the field of play," Sunny said. "They've shown they want to win, and the coaches have shown they want to win. That's all he needs. He wants to win. He's a champion. He doesn't like losing. Just give it some time, and he'll be able to make that commitment. I think he's ready."
Robert, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound five-star prospect, holds a laundry list of offers. He's focused in on but a few: Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU, Clemson and Georgia.
"Ole Miss is definitely up there, maybe LSU," Sunny said. "Ole Miss is, right now, the school that's up there. Ole Miss is the school at the top of the list right now."
Sunny is most impressed with the fans. As Robert made his way onto the field of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium prior to kickoff Saturday night, the student section broke out into a "We want Robert" chant.
The gesture wasn't lost on Sunny and family.
"The fans, they're not fake. They love us for football, they love us for who we are. They love my kids, not just because they play football, but as human beings. The fan base is very solid," he said.
"I was kind of touched by (the chant). That tells me they love him. That speaks well of them. They love him not because he's a player, but for who he is."
Even with the constant phone calls and every-day craziness of his youngest son's recruitment, Sunny counts the process as a blessing.
"To me, it's a blessing. I take it one day at a time," he said. "It's very humbling, saying I'm the father of the No. 1 player in the nation. I'm from very humble beginnings, so I tell him to be humble."
Sunny's tried to help Robert along, providing advice in choosing a school.
"The first thing I tell him, the most important thing, is where he wants to go," Sunny said. "Secondly, the depth chart. Are you going to go there and start as a true freshman? And third, education. His brother is here, so he's going to come and have his brother's support and he can be able to transition from high school to college."
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