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7 Ole Miss Football Players Facing A $2 Million Civil Suit After Alleged Beating

gavel2Nowhere is it more obvious that we’re in college football’s offseason than in Oxford, Mississippi.  Just as soon as the final whistle of bowl season is blown, arrests and court dates begin to take over the football landscape.  In the Magnolia State, the Rebels are dealing with both with already.

In January, cornerback Bobby Hill was arrested and charged with sexual battery.  He is indefinitely suspended from the Ole Miss team as a result.  Defensive end Channing Ward pled guilty last week to DUI charges which followed a January incident.

Apparently those issues were just the hors d’oeuvre.

Over the weekend, Denzel Nkemdiche and Serderius Bryant found themselves in trouble with the law, too.  Nkemdiche — a linebacker — was picked up for disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and failure to comply with a police officer.  Bryant — also a linebacker — was nicked for public drunkenness and disturbing the peace.  Both were suspended on Monday with Huge Freeze saying: “We are aware of the incidents and gathering facts.  Denzel and Serderius are suspended until we know more.”

Fast-forward to yesterday when it was learned that a plaintiff has filed a $2 million civil suit against Nkemdiche, his brother Robert Nkemdiche (an Ole Miss defensive end) and five yet-to-be-named Rebel football players.  The plaintiff, Matthew Baird, alleges that Denzel Nkemdiche punched him from behind and knocked him unconscious.  According to the lawsuit, Robert Nkemdiche and the other five began to kick an stomp Baird while he was on the ground.  This allegedly took place a year ago according to The Jackson Clarion Ledger.

Readers of this site know what our stance on this would be if it’s found to be true — Any players involved in a violent crime should be immediately tossed from the University of Mississippi football team.  If someone is on scholarship and represents a university, violent criminal activity should result in immediate dismissal from the team and school.  End of story.  We write the same thing whenever one of these player(s)-on-student(s) issues arises.

But you also know that that’s not at all likely to happen.

First, of course, UM’s brass must determine what actually happened.  A statement released by AD Ross Bjork reveals that in the school’s view, the matter has already been investigated by police which therefore makes it a closed case:

 

“When this alleged incident occurred, the proper authorities investigated the matter and could find no evidence of wrong-doing related to Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche or any other members of our football program.  This is a personal matter for them and we will support Denzel and Robert while they defend themselves in this civil case.”

 

Translation: This is an issue for the players involved — not Ole Miss – and none of those athletes will be heaved from the Rebel football team as the coppers have already given them a pass.  If that pass was deserved, so bet it.

However.

As you know, the level of evidence needed to win a civil case differs from the level of evidence needed to convict persons in a criminal trial.  While the original officers could find “no evidence” of an attack in the immediate aftermath, a civil court might view the same incident differently.

Blair claims that he and his girlfriend and another friend visited a campus frat house last February 17th.  An unrelated fight broke out at some point during the party.  Frat officials then asked everyone to leave.  As Blair left, Denzel Nkemdiche allegedly “came from behind and punched him,” knocking the young man unconscious.  Blair’s suit says that both Nkemdiches and five others “began to kick and stomp the plaintiff’s head into the ground.”  When his friend tried to dive on top of Blair to cover him and protect him, he too was kicked and beaten, “bursting (his) eardrum and injuring his middle ear.”

By the time the police arrived, the players had left.  After convulsions, a seizure, and 12 to 15 minutes of unconsciousness, Blair was treated for multiple injuries, including “a closed head injury,” according to the Clarion-Ledger.  There’s no word on what — if anything — Blair and his co-horts might have done or said to instigate the alleged beating.

Blair is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

If Blair’s attorney can convince enough witnesses to verify his client’s account, seven Ole Miss football players might just find themselves on the hook for a couple million bucks.  If the players do lose their civil case, would that be enough to eject all seven from the Mississippi football team?  Bjork’s statement suggests that it wouldn’t be.

Whether that’s the right call or the wrong one likely depends upon which SEC football team is your particular favorite.  We will say only this: If the evidence presented in the civil suit is particularly damning — meaning multiple witnesses who apparently didn’t speak to police do speak up in court — it’s not going to look good for Freeze’s program.  Especially is he turns a blind eye to the evidence presented in the civil suit.

For now, Rebel fans simply have to wait out the various arrests, citations, lawsuits and accusations made against multiple players on their football team in a two-month period.  And if the start of the year is any indication, this spring and summer could be downright ugly in Oxford.

Update: The lawyer for Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche has denied allegations made in a civil suit.

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Ole Miss Injuries; Torn ACL For Lineman Morris, Torn Meniscus For Linebacker Nkemdiche

Ole Miss has reportedly lost starting offensive guard Aaron Morris for the season with a torn ACL and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche for the next four to six weeks with a torn meniscus.

That four-to-six timeframe means Nkemdiche will definitely some key games for the Rebels and potentially sit out some other ones.  Ole Miss travels to Texas two weeks from today.  After an off-week, the Rebels have a brutal stretch of four straight SEC contests; road games against Alabama and Auburn and then home to face Texas A&M and LSU.

Bruce Feldman talked to Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and says Freeze is optimistic Nkemdiche can return after the Auburn game.

 

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Nkemdiche Names Top Two

Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., has two schools on top of his list.

“Ole Miss and LSU would be my top two right now,” Nkemdiche told ESPN RecruitingNation. “I would not say Ole Miss is on top, but they are really high.”

Ole Miss appears to have an advantage because of the presence of redshirt freshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, Robert’s brother. Their mother hasn’t hid her desire to see her two sons play together at Ole Miss.

But LSU is making a strong push for Nkemdiche, who originally committed to Clemson before reopening his recruitment in November. LSU was a strong suitor for Nkemdiche’s services before he committed to Clemson in June.

“LSU is still up there, I will be honest with you,” said Nkemdiche, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 prospect by ESPN. “I love LSU and they are a great school.”

Nkemdiche hasn’t decided when he will take his official visits. Alabama, Florida and Clemson remain in the mix, according to Nkemdiche.

“I plan to make my commitment in early February, either right before or on signing day,” he said.

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Coach: Nkemdiche No Longer Committed To Clemson

Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche has decommitted from Clemson, according to his high school coach.

Loganville (Ga.) Grayson High School coach Mickey Conn told 247Sports Nkemdiche decommitted from Clemson on Sunday.

“It was a family decision he made with his mom and dad,” Conn said.

The preference of Nkemdiche’s mother has been well established. She wants her son to play at Ole Miss along with his brother, freshman linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche.

Robert Nkemdiche, who plans to be in Oxford this weekend to watch Ole Miss host Vanderbilt, denied he had decommitted from Clemson when contacted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday night.

“Nothing final yet,” he said via text message.

Not even close, it seems.

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Nkemdiche: ‘My Mom Wants Me To Go To Ole Miss’

Robert Nkemdiche’s commitment to Clemson is still in doubt.

The recruitment of the highly-touted defensive end from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., has been controversial, especially since he committed to Clemson in June.

Nkemdiche has maintained his pledge to the Tigers is strong, but his tune seems to be changing. He told ESPN RecruitingNation on Wednesday that Ole Miss is still in the picture.

“My recruitment is crazy still, and Ole Miss is making a push for me,” Nkemdiche told ESPN. “It does not matter to my dad, but my mom wants me to go to Ole Miss and we are still talking about it, so we have not come to an agreement on it yet. It is tugging my heart in two different directions.”

The first direction is Clemson, where Nkemdiche and Grayson teammates Wayne Gallman and David Kamara have said they plan to play together. But Nkemdiche’s brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, is a redshirt freshman at Ole Miss.

That appears to be the main reason Nkemdiche’s mother wants her son to sign with Ole Miss. She told ESPN The Magazine in September she wasn’t happy with Clemson’s recruitment of Nkemdiche.

“His decision is not final,” Beverly Nkemdiche said. “He’s just a teenager, and people are forgetting that. We had never discussed Clemson, and I am unhappy with Clemson. I’m not there, so I don’t know for certain, but I feel like Robert was pressured into this decision.”

Sadly, it seems the pressure will only become greater as long as Nkemdiche’s mother tries to convince her son to go against his own choice.

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Nkemdiche Wants Clemson To Offer Another Teammate

Clemson has more work to do to hold on to the commitment of defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.

The Tigers have commitments from two of Nkemdiche’s teammates at Loganville (Ga.) Grayson High School – running back Wayne Gallman and cornerback David Kamara.

But Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 prospect, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Clemson needs to offer Grayson defensive back Ryan Carter to “seal the deal” with Nkemdiche’s recruitment.

“I am waiting on Clemson to offer Ryan; when that happens, it’s locked … it’s a done deal … it’s over,” Nkemdiche told the AJC.

So what if Clemson doesn’t offer Carter, whose offer list includes Ole Miss, Arkansas State, Southern Miss, Tulane and Georgia State? Nkemdiche said he would take a stronger look at Ole Miss, where his brother, linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche, is a redshirt freshman.

Carter, who told the AJC he would “probably commit rather quickly” if Clemson were to offer, said he and Robert Nkemdiche have had conversations about attending Ole Miss.

“We’ve all talked about going to Ole Miss together if that doesn’t work out with Clemson,” Carter said. “Robert’s brother is there, and he’s definitely trying to get us to go there.”

Clemson has a tough choice. It can offer Carter and secure Nkemdiche’s commitment (according to him) or hold off and risk losing Nkemdiche to Ole Miss or perhaps another school.

Offering Carter could be seen by some as a “5-for-1″ deal to land Nkemdiche, whose former teammate, quarterback Nick Schuessler, decided earlier this week to leave Mississippi State to walk on at Clemson.

For the record, Grayson coach Mickey Conn told the AJC if Clemson offers Carter, it would be because of his ability, not Nkemdiche’s influence. But that idea would certainly be in question now that Nkemdiche has made his desire to play with Carter so public.

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Report: Nkemdiche Chooses Clemson

Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche has committed to Clemson, according to a report from TigerIllustrated.com.

The news comes one day after Nkemdiche’s teammate and friend at Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., cornerback David Kamara, committed to the Tigers. Grayson running back Wayne Gallman is also committed to Clemson.

Nkemdiche is widely considered to be the nation’s top prospect for the class of 2013. He has also considered schools such as Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss, where his brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, is a redshirt freshman linebacker. Alabama was once thought to be the favorite to land Robert Nkemdiche.

Nkemdiche still has plenty of time to change his mind. Despite his commitment, you can expect plenty of schools to keep recruiting Nkemdiche until he has officially signed with a school.

UPDATE: The news of Nkemdiche’s commitment to Clemson has been confirmed by Scout.com and 247Sports.

Gallman posted a photo on Twitter of the Grayson trio wearing Clemson gear:

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