Updated: Jul 14
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
The following is from our 2020 Tigers Almanac, this will be the final excerpt:
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JOHN EMERY JR (Sophomore)
35 TOTAL TDs
2,722 TOTAL YARDS
Junior Year (6 Games, Season Ending Injury):
1,029 RUSHING YARDS
188 RUSHING YARDS
4 RUSHING TDs
6 CATCHES FOR 60 YARDS (10 per catch)
Played in 10 Games
Once the Zapruder-esque footage of John Emery Jr eviscerating LSU's 2019 defense made the rounds, we all collectively knew our minds had been blown worse than a coked-out Bradley Cooper at a Tijuana donkey show.
Here was a legally blind freshman causing unbridled incontinence upon future 1st and 2nd round NFL draft picks as if they were the mongoloid cave-children of Prince Andrew...obviously, we just had to know more. Soon enough, John Emery Jr became the most hotly discussed running back in college football, listed as the 2nd best running back in the country and 15th overall player in the 2019 recruiting class (according to 247 Sports...and I agree)....thanks UGA, we owe you one.
Emery was a valued member of the 2019 LSU Tigers, scoring 4 touchdowns and putting on a clinic vs Utah State, Arkansas and Oklahoma...however, he was trusted less than fellow freshmen Tyrion Davis-Price and Chris Curry later in the season.
Although he began the off-season known as a freshman sensation, Coach Orgeron and RBs Coach Robinson used him sparingly after concerns for his safety: Emery could only see out of one eye, and due to his impaired vision, Johnnny B. Damn Good struggled in the pass-pro, a flaw which beckoned the wrath of Joe Burrow:
Despite the Utah State game being his best performance in a Tigers uniform, Emery was sent packing after he missed a backfield block, Burrow screaming in a fury at his coaches to get Emery the "f**k outta the game". Soon after Burrow's outburst, John found his "close game" opportunities cut to a minimum....Tyrion Davis-Price or Chris Curry's playbook-precision discipline was favored instead. Still, much of Emery's freshman struggles can be easily explained:
After the national title victory, it became widespread public knowledge that John Emery Jr had a surgery on the damaged eye he'd dealt with for much of his young football career, and this operation may be the key to opening the floodgates for the Bayou Blur. While he's already shown supernatural vision and the understanding of how to manipulate collapsing gaps with only a single eye, it's impossible to imagine the world class capabilities Emery will have in the backfield and second level with two. When we think about Emery's prospects, we get delirious just thinking about his potential:
Let's look at his long 39 yard touchdown run vs Arkansas as a prime example of vicious, unsurpassed running back antics:
He receives the ball in the backfield just as left guard Ed Ingram misses a block (sorry bro) and allows an Arkansas LB inside with a free shot at Emery.
When you freeze the frame, the play looks lost before it's begun, yet herein lies the magic of #4:
The sophomore, knowing the block isn't coming, lowers his pads and buries the LB into submission, creating his own escape alley by barreling through the slapstick Hogs defender (who shall remain nameless cause he was just left faceless); then, Emery twists to his right, and stretches the play into the stratosphere. Watch his absolute elevation into the secondary, accelerating faster than a Clemson fan's rage at a Mastodon show on meth, zooming through defenders like Pacman recreating The Matrix. The Bayou Blur may have found his chances to shine limited due to his blotchy vision, but with one eye "Double Vision" still had 4 touchdowns as a freshman during a year in which Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 16, Burrow threw for 60 and ran for 5 and Tyrion Davis-Price tacked on 6 more touchdowns....the simplicity of listing numbers belies the transcendence of these players' performances...the stats were good...but the who, the why, the how, the when, the where became what The 2019 Tigers renaissance was all about.
No matter how you frame this or phrase it, Emery was rampant when used: he racked up 188 total rushing yards from 39 carries, three rushes of 20+ yards, and averaged nearly 6 yards per carry in the two games he ran the ball most (8-9 attempts each vs Utah State and Vanderbilt). Emery also displayed his capable versatility as a safety valve, catching 6 passes for 60 yards, beating the fastest linebackers or safeties around the edge in the process as he turned negative plays into positive, workmanlike gains. When we analyze all of Emery's attributes and limitless ceiling, do we see the next challenger to Edwards-Helaire's throne???
Utilizing his restored vision, breathtaking finesse, and ringing endorsements from so many LSU luminaries, Emery could very well be the next explosive, legendary Tigers back.
You better buckle your seatbelts Tigers fans: in 2020, this guy is ready to take us on a highly entertaining, defensively-comical ride to touchdown heaven.
PROJECTIONS: Either becomes the highly dependable second option to Chris Curry or Tyrion Davis-Price (one of which we believe will take the #1 spot), or he could very well excel these numbers as the 1st-3rd down back himself.
There's a mystery to how LSU will use these running backs. Will it be lightly? Aggressively? Will there be a larger rotation such as Coach O described, where they "use all three as the starter"? Will John have to learn how to run using both eyes?
Coach Orgeron may continue to stay conservative on Emery, however he needs to start utilizing the player more to unleash his ultimate powers.
(For full projections, including statistical projections, see the 2020 TIGERS ALMANAC HERE lsuodyssey.com/shop )
BY LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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