Greg Emerson doesn’t hold back a smile when he speaks about Tennessee.
After all, the Volunteers are one of the Scout four-star defensive end’s three top schools.
The No. 56-rated prospect in the 2018 class and Jackson native hears from defensive line coach Steve Stripling the most from Tennessee and sat down with coach Butch Jones the fist time he visited Rocky Top.
Another unofficial visit came this July when the North Side High School lineman rode east to work on his craft.
“Actually I had called coach Strip one day,” Emerson said, “and he told me (former Tennessee defensive end Chuck Smith) was coming up here to (Knoxville) and he wanted me to work out with him. I had to come. Ain’t nothin’ like Knoxville.”
“I ended up working out with Chuck Smith. It was a great workout with him. It’s always room to improve, work on things. I took something, learn something, take it home with me.
“One thing I will always remember, he said, ‘A legendary pass rusher always commits.’ The greatest pass rushers, like J.J. Watt, his favorite move — go underneath. Not so much as a specific move, but something people can’t stop, don’t (stop). Even when they do stop it, that doesn’t necessarily mean stop trying. Just work on yourself. Do what you know.”
During that trip to Knoxville, Emerson saw a fellow Scout 100 talent in person — Tennessee commit and Knoxville Catholic School offensive tackle Cade Mays.
“Actually I ran into (Mays) walking up there,” Emerson said. “Me and him. He was walking across the street. I was like, ‘I know him from somewhere.’ Then I said, ‘You Cade ain’t ya?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ He was like, ‘What’s up, Greg?’ I was like, ‘What’s up?’ He was good to see him.”
Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State and South Carolina were some of the latest to offer the Jackson native. Michigan State was the first offer.
With the top-rated junior defensive end in the Volunteer State having plenty of time to make a decision, he is taking a close look at three programs — Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee.
After a pair of visits to Knoxville, Emerson hopes to make the 310-mile drive again this fall.
“I’m going to try my hardest to make it back up for a game,” the four-star said. “I know my season will be pretty busy.”
The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder credits his motor with among his skills that college coaches find attractive.
“The thing about my game, I’m not a quitter,” Emerson said. “Even when times get rough, I’m not going to quit until the final buzzer has rung. Simple as that.”