After the victory over Alabama last Saturday, the Ole Miss football players returned to Oxford as rock stars, with the leader of the band being none other than defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche.
The junior had the best game of his life, playing over 80 snaps and recording six tackles, including 2.5 for a loss. ESPN’s Mel Kiper took notice of the performance as well, ranking Nkemdiche the top college prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft.
Despite all the football accolades, there is so much more to Nkemdiche than what he can do on the football field.
Here are three interesting things to know about Nkemdiche:
1. Credits his personal success to Zen and centering himself
It doesn’t take long listening to Nkemdiche to realize he has a different kind of personality compared to the average football player. Most players would credit their success to practice or weight training, but he attributed his success last week to things like Zen, interstellar science and enlightened souls. Nkemdiche even cited music from Pink Floyd and The Grateful Dead as helpful to his development on the field.
“I have a different role on this team — a different DNA,” Nkemdiche said to David Brandt of the Associated Press. “I feel like this is the moment where I’m the one that needs to step up and make my energy felt.”
2. There is another Nkemdiche
Robert has received so much attention over the last few days, few outside Oxford probably realize one of the biggest reasons Nkemdiche chose Ole Miss was because of his older brother, Denzel.
Denzel is a fifth-year linebacker who is recovered from an ankle injury that prevented him from playing the final five games of last season. He isn’t the NFL prospect like his brother, but Denzel is a big part of the reason why Ole miss led the nation in scoring defense (16 points per game) last season.
3. Robert and Denzel are sons of Nigerian immigrants
Both of their parents come to as many games as possible, but their mother, Beverly, still frequently travels back to Nigeria to work in the Nigerian legislature. Unfortunately, last week’s game started at 2:15 a.m. in Nigeria, so Beverly caught the highlights of the Ole Miss upset victory.
Like Beverly, Robert’s father, Sunday, loves that his son excels at the mental part of football.
“We (Sunday and Beverly) always told him that no matter what you do, knowledge is power. It’s always a good thing,” Sunday said to David Brandt of the Associated Press.
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) September 24, 2015