LSU Football Players Most Likely to Breakout in 2020: No. 8 John Emery, Running Back

Harrison Valentine

Rushing for a total of 39 carries for 188 yards and four touchdowns, John Emery Jr. posted a modest freshman campaign in Baton Rouge, providing us with a small taste of what’s to come.

Stepping on campus with sky-high expectations as a five-star running back prospect, many expected Emery Jr. to get a bulk of the touches behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a role that was quickly assumed by fellow freshman, and Southern Lab graduate, Ty Davis-Price in fall camp.

To put his hype into perspective, Emery Jr. was the highest-rated running back recruit to sign with LSU since Leonard Fournette, rated a five-star prospect by both 247Sports and

Davis-Price, the 6-foot-2, 226-pound Baton Rouge native, impressed the coaches from the jump with his down-hill, bruising style of running. He looked like an SEC tailback when he first arrived, while Emery struggled a bit with fumbling.

Even though his carries were limited in 2019, expect Emery Jr.’s role to increase mightily with the departure of Edwards-Helaire. He’s too good, and too explosive not to break onto the college football scene, especially with his quickness and elite athleticism.

In his senior season at Destrehan High School, Emery Jr. ran for 1,693 yards and 26 touchdowns en route to the 5A state semifinals, ending the season 13-2 overall. He’s a player who was starting to hit his stride toward the end of the year, highlighted by a rushing touchdown in LSU’s 63-28 win over Oklahoma in the CFP semifinals.

Returning a stable of rushers in 2020, LSU is primed to be a significant threat yet again running the football with Emery, Davis-Price and redshirt sophomore Chris Curry. It’s a position -- in the last decade at least -- that the Tigers always seem to reload at.

“I consider all three of those guys starters right now,” Orgeron said in an interview with 104.5 ESPN’s Off The Bench. “We’re going to play all three. Chris Curry is becoming the running back we know he can be. Ty Davis-Price is a force. John Emery has improved on the things he needed to.”

One thing that stands out, Orgeron says, is Emery Jr.’s ability to put his foot in the grass and make a cut, proving to be as good as most in that respect. I’d say his former teammate Clyde Edwards-Helaire knew a thing or two about quick footwork, and just like No. 22, Emery Jr. is destined to turn a lot of heads and prove a lot of people wrong come September.

Playing in 10 games with no starts in 2019, Emery Jr. is about to show why he was the highly-touted prospect he was. And with his increased role, pressure now becomes a privilege.