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5-star RB John Emery Jr. will enroll early at Georgia in 2019.

UGA recruiting: The family reasons why John Emery Jr. wanted to be a Bulldog

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings at least four days a week. What did the family of 5-star RB John Emery Jr. see that made it a “no-brainer” for his decision? Read on. 

When their 5-star son chose Georgia on Sunday, the Emerys were still in Georgia. They had yet to return to their Louisiana home in the St. Charles Parish.

It capped a whirlwind of a week.

John Emery Jr. rates as the nation’s No. 2 RB and the No. 31 overall prospect on the 247Sports composite for 2019. His decision was the opening act of a  “Three Dog Night” commitment spree for the Bulldogs.

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John Emery Jr. (left) made the decision to commit to Georgia over the weekend on his own. (Contributed photo)

It still sounds like Emery was pure improv.

Or at least the timing of it.

The Emerys told DawgNation they didn’t have a travel plan set for this past weekend until the very last minute.

Emery becomes the sixth 5-star RB prospect to choose Georgia since 2014. That’s not even counting Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall before the likes of Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, D’Andre Swift, Zamir White and James Cook.

What seems like a trend still inspires a bevy of questions.

How hard will LSU come after their homegrown star from Destrehan High School? The 5-foot-11 Emery only lives about 80 miles away.

Why Georgia? Will he take any more visits?

Those are very good questions for a back who will still be pursued. He clocked a 4.42 laser in the 40 earlier this month at the Opening finals.

A probable answer came Sunday night as the family gathered around a celebratory “feast” of pizza.

“We went all out on the limb and got two Papa John’s pizzas and about 20 wings,” John Emery Sr. said. “With about six bottles of water. We are celebrating here, man.”

Emery’s father found a way to answer just about all those questions by just looking at his son.

When he did, he shared what he saw. He couldn’t help the tingles of excitement that came with that.

“Just to know that my son is happy and this is a relief and it is all off of him is a celebration in itself,” John Emery Sr. said. “I have never seen my son smile as much through the whole process as he is right now.”

“We are hanging around each other right now. We don’t want to leave each other’s side. My son is just glowing right now. Seeing that as a father is just a great feeling.”

What will his son look like as a committed recruit to Georgia?

“We briefly spoke about it and I guess the final word is that I really do not want to say anything on that right now,” Emery Sr. said. “But it looks like ‘No’ here for that. We’re not going to visit anywhere else. That’s what it looks like right now but you never know. You really just never know. We might. But right now, his commitment to Georgia is 110 percent to Georgia. Just Georgia. He’s Georgia. Just like he said in his tweet.”

What did Georgia offer the Emerys? 

Emery Sr. can somehow make a very complex decision sound rather simple.

“There are no negatives about Georgia,” he said.  “There is no more than any school can offer John but a scholarship. That is what Georgia offered here. A free education and a chance to be successful in football. Nobody else can offer more than that. I don’t see any other offer out there greater than that.”

“That is what we are looking for. That’s a chance to be successful at the University of Georgia and for his life after football. Football is temporary but this is his ticket to a successful life.”

He realizes how temporary football can be having already played the game in the SEC. That’s where coach Kirby Smart came in.

Is he the closer? Emery Sr. said Smart sounds more like the Dean.

“Now I love coach Smart,” Emery Sr. said. “Coach Smart is always like ‘I am going to make sure that John graduates’ no matter what with all this football. Doesn’t matter if its three years or five years. He tells me that John will graduate from Georgia.”

Emery Jr. will study business and real estate. He is already focused on his own brand.

“He pays attention,” his father said. “Part of this recruiting process showed him some things about people. That’s something he was able to pick up on through the recruiting process. He has grown through this.”

Setting the record on John Emery Jr. and that first offer

John Emery Jr. is a Tennessee legacy. His father played linebacker for the Vols a generation ago. He was in Knoxville for three seasons before transferring to Nicholls State.

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John Emery Sr. played for Tennessee in the SEC. But he felt it was a “no-brainer” for his son to commit to Georgia this weekend. (Contributed photo)

That program actually made the first official scholarship offer. It was when his son was a freshman. The head coach at Nicholls actually is an alum of Destrehan High School.

That’s where John Jr. plays now.

It was a sincere gesture but his son’s talent was bound for the SEC and Power 5 stadiums that look like cathedrals to ballplayers.

Georgia was the first one of those to offer. It was that Dell McGee guy. Again.

There would be a lot to like about UGA from the jump. Emery Sr. would bring that up on the day his son chose to commit.

Most will not understand the burdens that come with the blessing of being so highly-recruited. It can be tiring. Everyone’s pitch and best interests in his future did wear them slap out some nights.

But it never seemed that way with Georgia.

“It just felt like a complete fit,” Emery Sr. said. “It felt like we were at home. This was just a feeling that we received from the whole entire staff. That’s something – this level of camaraderie from the whole staff – is something you don’t get from a lot of schools. The way they treated us just always felt so real.”

“We’ve visited Georgia more than any other school and every time we got to see more we liked. The things we might have missed on the first trip well then we caught those things on the second and third trips. It just added up more and more for Georgia.”

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John Emery Jr. could very well be finished with his recruiting process. His father feels that just might be the case. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Emery’s visit this past weekend was his third. It was his father’s second trip.

“The first time John came was right after the season in early February I think,” Emery Sr. said. “John recently came back for that scavenger hunt event with his mother only and then we all just came back this weekend for the reveal.”

Those two would discuss his options. His first real big unofficial was actually to Michigan.

When did he know it was going to be Georgia for his son?

“It has been a feeling about Georgia for me for a long time,” he said. “But I didn’t push my feelings on my son. It was his decision. He would make it and we would support him in whatever he decided.”

“But he always kind of knew it was going to be Georgia. This past weekend just topped everything off.”

Father and son were in unison on this: They could not find one single negative about UGA.

The timing here was “a shock” to the Emerys

An advanced case of recruiting fatigue has already set in for this family.

“This kind of makes us not want to do much more traveling with the recruiting process,” Emery Sr. said. “For John to make this commitment now was a shock to all of us. We were planning on doing it right before school starts or right before his season starts. It was a shock but at the end of the day, it feels like a relief. Because we control now whether or not we want any more of this recruiting process.”

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John Emery Jr. said that Justin Fields was also a factor in making sure he could be a great fit at Georgia. (Contributed photo)

Emery Jr. will graduate early. He enrolls in January of 2019.

“We are just hoping for December to hurry up and get here,” his father said. “We’re not wishing our lives away, but we are just wishing it away to December. We’re ready to get this over with.”

That vibe came in the middle of last week.

“John is a very intelligent individual,” Emery Sr. said. “We grew through this process as a family but to see him grow up and make this big decision on his own was amazing to me. He studied these schools for what each school had to offer and how he could best fit into each program.”

“He obviously did not have one bad decision in front of him here. These were all great schools. But to me, this move here to Georgia was a no-brainer. Any decision here would have been great, but I think he made the greatest possible decision he could.”

The 5-star RB quarterbacked this choice. There was zero input from his family on this.

“We weren’t even set on planning a trip last weekend and he just said ‘Come on, let’s go to Georgia’ so we did,” his father said. “We just came and it was magnificent to see the way that people interacted.”

Georgia had a pair of ESPN personalities come back and speak at the reveal. That a heavy hitter and an outside hitter: David Pollack and Maria Taylor.

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John Emery Jr. (left) joins his father in the new UGA recruiting tradition room in the new west end zone expansion. Emery is joined by his niece K’Amari Trudeaux in the photo. (Contributed photo)

“I love the saying the Georgia folks say,” Emery Sr. said. “They say ‘Once you are a ‘Dawg, then you are always a ‘Dawg’ and we had several different people come up and say that. One of the ESPN reporters came to the reveal at a gathering we were at and she said the same thing David Pollack said. She said the same thing the linebacker Roquan Smith said that just got drafted in the first round.”

“They all said Georgia is continuing to help them through all the processes of life. Maria is like what 31 years old? She’s been out of school at least 10 years and she’s still thankful the school helps her in life. She still has an affiliation and a tie to Georgia. That is what I really love.”

“Some universities are not like that. I can vouch for that. …. A lot of these schools get these kids because they can perform. John wouldn’t be getting looked at by Georgia if he was not a great athlete.”

“They get them and they give their time and then they are gone. It is not like that here at Georgia. That’s one thing that I really see and I really like about this place.”

Those testimonials mattered. He also found joy in how fellow Louisianan Makiya Tongue pledged to play for Georgia shortly after his son did.

“We are going to bring ‘The Boot’ to the Bulldogs,” Emery Sr. said. “It is trending now.”

McGee the 5-star magnet loomed large here

The UGA running backs coach did nothing to hurt his reputation as one of the nation’s top recruiters. McGee might have even advanced it.

Pulling a 5-star RB out of Louisiana? That’s the recruiting world equivalent of six plates on each side of the squat rack. Try lifting that without a weight belt. That’s the degree of difficulty here.

This quote can stand alone here.

“Man, that guy is great,” Emery Sr. said. “That guy is really great. Dell and I hit it off immediately. We come from the same era. We played in the same era. He was at Auburn. I was at UT. We know all the similar people. We know how it used to be and stuff like that.

“Dell is very passionate about his job. He’s very compassionate about his guys. He’s very compassionate about my son. That’s a guy I know I can trust with my son. That’s all I can say about him. No need to say any more than he has my trust with my son. Just a great guy. It was an honor and privilege to just meet with him.”

McGee is involved at the beginning and most likely the final chapter of this specific recruiting story.

McGee has an excellent reputation as a recruiter. He only goes after elite backs. When he offered Emery, it opened the doors to a larger world. The family remains grateful for that.

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Fellow Louisianans Makiya Tongue (left) and John Emery Jr. (right) both chose Georgia this past weekend. (Snapchat)

“For Dell McGee to contact the school and render his first offer was big,” Emery Sr. said. “It spoke volumes for John. That opened up a lot of doors. It started to give him the recognition he had worked to deserve. He sets out every day to be great and that showed him how great he really could be.”

“He may have already known it, but it allowed him to see things better. It showed him he was on his way to being one of the best backs in the country with that Dell McGee offer. He was excited by that offer like a kid in a candy store.”

McGee offered. Then he never left as all the big schools came vying for his services.

“For Dell to hang in there with him and never leave said a lot,” Emery Sr. said. “This is a strenuous process and Dell kept pushing him. He offered first and never went away. Talking to Dell through all of this was very comforting.”

McGee shared aspects of his personal life with them. He said this would be a lifetime relationship.

Not just with John. The whole family.

“I truly believe that,” he said. “I just met this guy not even a year ago and it feels like we have had and will have a lifetime relationship.”

 

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