Denzel Nkemdiche, a key starter in the Ole Miss defense at linebacker, is well on his way to returning to the team in good standing, Rebels coach Hugh Freeze said Tuesday.
The older brother of Rebels star defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, Denzel missed spring practice on suspension and will sit out Ole Miss' season-opening game in Atlanta against Boise State. But Freeze had encouraging words about Nkemdiche's expected return in the second week of the season.
"I thought his attitude and leadership out there in practice thus far is always positive," Freeze said, according to gulflive.com. "He's kind of accepted what his punishment is and has gone through it very nicely. Any person in life that makes mistakes, which we all do, you've got some decisions to make after that in which you want course or trajectory you want to go in your life. And I think he's made the correct ones thus far."
That's a lot of words to say this: The rising junior is finally emerging from an extended stay in Freeze's dog house.
Nkemdiche led Ole Miss in tackles (82) as a redshirt freshman in 2012, but made just 35 last year in an injury-shortened season. His health and return in good standing to the starting lineup is critical to the Rebels' defense. At just 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds, he is undersized for a typical NFL linebacker, but was named second-team preseason All-SEC last month.