Strap in for what should be a bumpy ride.
John Emery Jr., Louisiana’s top-ranked running back in the Class of 2019, is making the rounds for some final unofficial visits ahead of July 7. Multiple sources close to Emery have confirmed that will be when he announces his decision.
The 4-star tailback attended Mississippi State’s spring game in April. He visited LSU at the beginning of May, then made his way back to Georgia. Emery was back at Mississippi State’s elite junior day last weekend before releasing a cryptic tweet that a decision could be on the way. Another source informed SEC Country that Emery is in line to make his first unofficial visit to Alabama this weekend.
So, where do things stand?
Sources on the LSU side were confident in the team’s chances of keeping Emery in-state as recently as early this week. In fact, I can say that members of the LSU coaching staff believe that when Emery signs his national letter of intent in December, it will be with the Tigers.
That leaves the door open for the elite running back to commit elsewhere next month.
There’s growing confidence at Mississippi State that Emery will commit to the Bulldogs in July. According to a source familiar with Emery’s recruitment, it will not be because of his girlfriend potentially transferring there, but because the Destrehan (La.) High School star is doing careful research about his fit in the offense and stability of the coaching staff. Mississippi State likes Emery in a role comparable to that of recent first-round pick Saquon Barkley at Penn State. That thought moved the needle during Emery’s recent trip to Starkville.
LSU running backs coach Tommie Robinson discussed a similar role with the Tigers, which Emery said last month opened his eyes to a fit at the in-state power. Robinson, along with coaches from Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Southern California — among others — were also in attendance for Emery’s spring game last month.
Emery will make his way to Alabama this weekend, and it is very possible Nick Saban could make a push for the elite Louisiana prospect, per a source. Don’t discount the Tide just yet.
Emery is also expected back in Baton Rouge before his July announcement. That will give Robinson, area recruiter Mickey Joseph and coach Ed Orgeron another chance. LSU is one of a handful of schools to have Emery on campus twice since January, along with Georgia and Mississippi State.
I have held a Crystal Ball pick in Emery to wind up at LSU since this time a year ago when he made a string of visits up I-10 West to Baton Rouge during his junior year. I felt good about that pick up until his trip to Mississippi State last weekend. For now, the outlook is cloudy, and I’m leaning toward the 4-star back to pick an out-of-state school on July 7. However, this recruitment is shaping up to model that of Ja’Marr Chase in the 2018 class. Chase picked Kansas, then nearly committed to TCU last July, and settled on Florida later in the summer. Eventually, the 4-star receiver settled on LSU on National Signing Day in February.
Expect Emery’s recruitment to follow a similar trend from July through December when the elite running back plans on finalizing his decision.