Father-in-law Knows Best

FAYETTEVILLE — As a quarterback, Nathan Emert has been taught to avoid the rush, think fast and make smart decisions under pressure.

But nothing prepared Emert for what he did last summer that some would argue is even more nerve-racking than being chased by 300-pound defensive linemen: He asked Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee for permission to marry his daughter, Shannon.

"Oh, I was terrified," the 21-year-old Emert said.

It's not uncommon for football players to be coached by their fathers. That happens frequently in high school and sometimes at the college level.

But Emert has had to get used to taking orders from his future father-in-law, who happens to also be the sophomore's position coach. Emert is the backup to Arkansas starting quarterback Casey Dick.

"At first, it was (awkward)," said Lee, who was hired in January to replace Gus Malzahn as Arkansas' offensive coordinator. "But now, he's made me mad enough that I don't hardly think about it anymore."

Lee admits he's never coached a relative, or even a future relative for that matter. But it didn't come as a surprise when Emert and Shannon got engaged.

The couple has been dating for four years, since Emert was a junior at Shiloh Christian.

As Lee tells it, his daughter and Emert hit it off while watching the Razorbacks practice several years ago. Lee was Arkansas' quarterbacks coach at the time, and Emert was nursing a broken collarbone suffered in a game.

"I think Shannon brought him over here, and they sat on the hill and watched us practice," said Lee, Arkansas' quarterbacks coach from 2001-02.

"I think she was doing it (because) she felt sorry for him or something, and that's how it all started — right here on this field. It's sentimental."

As awkward as the situation might appear to be, Emert said he was glad when he heard that Lee was going to be hired as Arkansas' offensive coordinator. The two men have talked about football throughout the entire time that Emert has been dating Lee's youngest daughter.

Of course, that didn't make it any easier last summer when Emert visited Lee, then an assistant with the Dallas Cowboys, and asked for his permission to marry Shannon.

"We went to their house in Dallas, and we were downstairs talking," Emert said, referring to himself and Lee. "Shannon was upstairs changing, and I just asked him right there and just out of the blue, so it doesn't give him a chance to think about it."

Lee was happy for the couple. He gave Emert his blessing to marry his daughter, but first he made the quarterback sweat it out a little bit.

"I just asked him, I said, ‘If somebody is scratching at the window at 3:30 in the morning, I expect you to go answer the door.'" Lee said. "He said, ‘I will.' And so that was it."

Emert and Lee's daughter have set June 30 as their wedding date, after he completes his first season as an eligible player with the Razorbacks. Emert was forced to sit out last season after transferring from Missouri Southern.

For now, the former walk-on is Arkansas' No. 2 quarterback. Soon he will be a husband who won't be able to avoid his father-in-law, even if he wanted to. After all, Lee is his coach.

"It's not awkward because I've always talked to him about football, and he's kind of helped me with things way before any of this ever transpired," Emert said. "It's kind of normal, so it's not any big change or anything."

Wait until after the wedding.

Nathan Emert

Age: 21

Class: Sophomore

High School: Shiloh Christian

Notable: Emert transferred to Arkansas after his record-breaking freshman season at Missouri Southern in 2005. He set 18 school passing records while being named the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association freshman of the year. He's not on scholarship at Arkansas, but he's serving as starter Casey Dick's backup for the spring. He will marry Shannon Lee, the daughter of Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee, on June 30

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