There was just something pulling Catholic High’s Emery Jones to be part of the family.
Not just that LSU has been a football team he’s long cheered, but the 6-foot-4 ½ , 334-pound Jones felt an even greater tug of the heart to be a part of a program building an offensive line for the future through its version of the Home Shopping Network.
Jones, the nation’s ninth-ranked offensive tackle and a four-star recruit, committed to LSU during a ceremony Friday evening. He became the 16th pledge in the Class of 2022 and the fourth offensive lineman from Louisiana, joining Neville’s Will Campbell, Newman’s Bo Bordelon and Lafayette Christian Academy’s Fitzgerald West.
“It was very important,” Jones said. “I feel our O-line is kind of home based. I feel it’s going to be great because I feel we’re going to have a family vibe with our connections. It will be quicker to bond with each other and move quicker in the right direction. That’s going to be a vital part in what we’ve got going.”
LSU’s class experienced a range of emotions Friday, first with the loss earlier in the day of five-star safety JaCoby Mathews of Ponchatoula who announced that he had decommitted.
Jones salvaged the day in the evening when the nation’s No. 190 overall prospect chose LSU over Florida State, Tennessee and Arkansas. The Tigers have the nation’s fifth-ranked recruiting class according to 247Sports.
“It was something I wanted to do because I wanted to get it over with and give my team my all and not have to still focus on trying to make a decision on where to go,” Jones said of the timing of his announcement. “I wanted to see what certain schools had to offer, which one I would like the most and thought where I would have the opportunity of getting better.”
Jones made official visits in June to Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida State, while taking an unofficial visit to LSU where the first team Class 5A All-State selection participated in the Tigers offensive/defensive line camp.
“It’s been my goal since I was in little league to play football in college,” said Jones, who finished his junior year with a 3.627 GPA. “That’s when coaches started telling me I had a chance to do big things. I was maybe 11 or 12 years old. That’s when my focus started shifting to play college football. That’s when I thought about college and how hard I needed to work to get my goal. I grew up watching LSU.”
Jones has been a constant on the offensive line for Catholic High, having started at left tackle the past two seasons.
It didn’t take first-year CHS head football coach David Simoneaux long to become a big fan of Jones. And it wasn’t just for his immense strength, length and surprising athleticism (he was the team’s starting center in basketball in 2020-21), but also for his leadership and work ethic.
“When your best player is also your greatest leader, you’ve got a great thing going,” Simoneaux said. “He’s a next-level type guy in terms of his leadership. I just enjoy being around him so much. When I look at him with the type of talent he has with the type of intangibles he has, I think he’s a future pro because of the way he handles himself. He’s a great mix of intelligence, work ethic, talent and character. He’s the whole package.”
The homegrown approach LSU has followed building the Class of 2022 offensive line has slowly come together with Campbell and Bordelon forming the foundation. West jumped on board two weeks ago, giving the Tigers’ prospects at the center, guard and tackle positions.
While Jones has played on the outside at tackle where he’s been both a dominant run blocker and excelled in pass protection, he’s versatile enough to play either tackle or guard in college.
It wasn’t until LSU’s lineman camp that Jones got such an endorsement from first-year Tigers offensive line coach Brad Davis, who joined the Tigers’ staff June 10 after serving in the same capacity at Arkansas where he was recruiting Jones.
“Before I went to camp, Coach Davis said he was set on me playing inside,” Jones said of the guard position. “At camp he saw how good I could move; how good I was laterally. He said he could see me playing tackle and guard in college, but he said in the NFL, I would be a guard. I’m also working on center. I’m comfortable playing anywhere.”
Jones also credited with relationship with Davis for making him feel comfortable and helping him finalize his decision. He also considered the deep bond he enjoys with his family where they will have a better opportunity of watching him play in person in Tiger Stadium.
“I know I’m going to have coach Brad, who is a Baton Rouge native and he’s always going to look out for me whether it’s on the football field or not,” Jones said. “My family’s going to be right down the street. I know I’m going to have a family atmosphere that includes my friends at Catholic High. The family atmosphere that I’m going to have here is guaranteed. It kind of set it apart from all other schools.”