Florida visit ‘boosted’ Gators’ chances with top-100 RB John Emery Jr.

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Gators make cut for John Emery Jr.

Florida is in the mix for multiple elite running backs in the Class of 2019, including top-100 overall recruit John Emery Jr.

The 4-star tailback from Destrehan, La., visited campus last week and included the Gators in his top 8 this weekend. In an exclusive interview with SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman, Emery discussed Florida and first-year coach Dan Mullen.

“Before I visited them, I’ve always had interest in Florida. Going out there, it boosted it,” Emery told Spiegelman. “Talking to Coach Mullen, the feeling, the energy out there was real. He was at Florida once, so I know to him, that’s home. It felt like family out there. Coach Mullen — he was giving me the real.”

Florida running backs coach Greg Knox handles Louisiana recruiting for the Gators and has been Emery’s primary contact. Knox has made a strong impression on Emory and discussed the depth chart with him.

“I felt a great vibe — from Coach Knox. He has been real, too,” Emery said. “He was telling me it’s a great environment. Looking at the running backs they have now, there’s two (Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine) who could go pro after this season.

“So I know if I go there, it’s going to be an easier chance of getting playing time. I expect to be a top player at any school I go to, and at Florida, it was a great, great time out there.”

In addition to Florida, the 6-foot, 194-pound playmaker has visited Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma and Michigan. Emery still has a few more schools he needs to check out, but the Gators set the bar high during his trip to Gainesville.

“They showed me some things I have never seen on other visits,” he said. “They prepare their players. A routine they did when I was there helped set players up for the future. It was about how they should react toward things in life, not just football. That was big for me.”

Deciding factor for John Emery Jr.

Early playing time is priority No. 1 for Emery, who is ranked the nation’s No. 2 running back by 247Sports.

That will be his biggest deciding factor, and he’s not shy about it. Emery is trying to crack the starting lineup as soon as possible.

“My plan going into college is starting,” Emery said. “I don’t plan on being No. 2 or being a part of a duo. However, I’ll play my part, but my goal is eventually to be No. 1 for sure. I feel like I should be that No. 1 like Leonard Fournette [at LSU] and the amount of carries he got each game.

“I don’t want to be Derrius Guice when Fournette was playing. I also have to think about the long-term and making it to the league. I don’t want my body beat up, so that’s something I need to look at.”

With the possibility of Scarlett and Perine turning pro, Emery sees an opportunity to possibly play right away at Florida. If both backs leave early, his competition as a true freshman would be Malik Davis, Adarius Lemons, Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement.

Speigelman feels the in-state Tigers are the team to beat, but the Gators have a great chance to make the cut in August when Emery trims his list to three finalists. He plans to decide in December.

“This is really the final 8,” Emery said. “There were other schools I had interest in and some schools the vibe wasn’t there for me. These top 8 schools — I have a great relationship with the coaches and I could see myself there for the next three or four years. As time passes, more schools will be eliminated.”

SEC Country’s Sam Spiegelman contributed to this report. Miss a previous Gator Chomps notebook? Find every daily recap of Florida Gators recruiting  right here.

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