Hours prior to kickoff between Tennessee and Utah State in the 2014 season opener, Vols coach Butch Jones was in his office at the Anderson Training Center.
Pacing away nervously? Stressing over which polo to wear? No and no. Jones was in the midst of a conversation with a running back that could do amazing things with the football if he came to Tennessee.
That runner was B.J. Emmons and the effort and timing of the talk with Jones shows just how interested the staff is in landing Emmons, who ranks by Scout as the No. 6 player at his position in the 2016 class.
The two spent more time together Saturday as the Scout four-star prospect made his way back to Knoxville for Orange Carpet Day.
“It’s not all about football,” Emmons said after the event. “It’s all about having fun all-around and coach Jones is most certainly a person that knows how to do everything outside of football or football-wise.
“Everybody’s on the same page (at Tennessee). It’s like family the whole way through as soon as you walk through the door and as soon as you leave. Everybody’s united as one.
“It wasn’t boring. It was a good Tennessee day.”
The one-time Georgia commit feels the freedom and the recruiting process is cranking up a notch.
“There’s no pressure,” he said. “Everything feels good. It’s just like not a lot of pressure on me knowing that I was committed to Georgia, but now I feel like I’m open to anybody.
“The whole recruiting thing is fun. That’s one good thing about being an athlete — all this extra that comes with it like free trips and stuff like that. That’s the best part about it, but with me being verbally committed and now being decommitted it feels the same before I committed because everybody is still coming on to me and stuff like that. Other than that, no pressure. Just enjoying the ride. You never know.”
Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara could be the most devastating backfield duo the Big Orange has had in years. The Morganton, North Carolina, understands there’s talent on The Hill and understands his toolbox could benefit Tennessee.
Emmons said he added “a lot more” strength from the 2014 season, which spells trouble for opposing defenders in the Tar Heel State. The Freedom High School standout ran for 431 yards on 30 attempts with six touchdowns in the opening round of the NCHSAA Class 3A state playoffs.
“Not everybody runs the same,” Emmons said, “so I think I could bring a different kind of format to it the way I run the ball. Jalen can do one thing good, and I could probably do something else.
“I bring a lot to the table. It’s like a card game, you don’t know what I have in my hand. Whatever I can deal, I can deal. If you can’t handle it, then oh well.”
Tennessee running backs coach Robert Gillespie hasn’t slowed down his pursuit of Emmons.
|Tennessee coach Butch Jones continues to give Emmons individual attention.|
“Coach G, he’s a good dude, always up-tempo,” said Emmons, who scored 38 touchdowns in 2014. “He coaches you to be the best person you are. That’s always good anywhere you go. You’re lying if you don’t want that.”
Alabama got an unofficial visit from Emmons two weeks ago and the No. 115 player in the nation said that, in Tuscaloosa, they play “serious football down there.”
Emmons admitted his desire to play in the Southeastern Conference but also said that Florida State is a school starting to come on strong. He added that he will “for sure” take an official visit to Florida in September.
In regards to a return trip to Knoxville, Emmons said he wants to come back “whenever I can.”
The back has an eye for the academic side of things in helping him pick and choose between the elite programs that seek his services.
“Coming out of high school, it’s the next 4 years of your life, becoming a man,” Emmons said. “So, it’s not just football, it’s where you get your education. Most people look at it like ‘He’s a football player, so he’s going to go play football.’ I mean I want to go somewhere I can play but at the same time I kind of need to do what I need to do outside of football because you can’t play football forever. Education and football.”
Emmons doesn’t plan on making another declaration until 2016.
“You won’t hear anything from me until next February. I’ll take all five officials, definitely.”