With Signing Day approaching, Austin Emery didn't want to make a hasty decision. In fact, even though he had made a college choice, his first pick didn't end up being the one he ultimately selected.
But a final choice was made as Emery announced his decision to play football for Southwestern University on Wednesday morning.
Emery picked the Division III program in Georgetown over Hendrix, Northwestern Oklahoma and Southeastern.
“I still didn't know on Signing Day so I wasn't going to rush,” Emery said. “I had decided on Hendrix but then I went and visited Southwestern. It had the home feel to it. They showed a lot of interest. My parents really liked it.”
Emery has also been a standout baseball player for the Yellow Jackets and thought about waiting until after this spring, when he would have a full season on the diamond after shoulder surgery limited him in 2017, to decide what path to take in college.
He decided that football was where he wanted to continue his athletic career. At least for the time being and he liked the situation at quarterback he found with Southwestern.
“I do want to play football but there was an 'if,'” Emery said. “I am pretty set on football. That's why it's an 'if.'”
Emery completed 80-of-147 passes for 1,232 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions this past fall. He also led the team rusher with 1,058 yards and 15 touchdowns on 207 carries.
He shared the District 5-5A Offensive Player of the Year honors with Denton Ryan receiver Gabe Douglas after guiding the Jackets to a second-place finish and an 8-3 overall record — the program's best season since 2009 — after a bi-district loss against Saginaw Boswell.
“The more I look back at it, the more memories pop into my head,” Emery said. “I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was a great time. I only wish we could have won a couple of playoff games.”
In addition to being the quarterback, he handled kicking and punting duties — something that garnered interest from some schools during the recruiting process — for an all-around effort. In his career he made 79 extra points and a pair of field goals.
Emery ends 11th on the all-time Denison scoring list with 205 points and among those ahead of him, only Erick Harper in eighth place has also contributed in all three areas.
He is one of only six Jackets to throw for 1,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in a career, alongside Jordan Taylor, Devon Blanton, Clifton Hines, Stanley Morrison and Reggie Perry.
Emery finished 14th in DHS career passing yards at 1,653 and 22nd in career rushing yards with 1,467 yards on 272. He also become the 20th Denison player with 20 career rushing touchdowns.
In his first year as the starting quarterback, Emery's junior year was cut short by a shoulder injury suffered in the district opener. His last game of 2016 was one of the best in school history — Emery ran for 289 yards, which is the 10th-best total in school history and most by a quarterback, and four touchdowns (including the game-winner with 58 seconds left) against Frisco Heritage. He finished with 62 carries for 399 yards and four touchdowns and was 34-of-74 passing for 421 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions in that shortened season.
Emery quarterbacked the freshman team but then moved to receiver as a sophomore. He had six catches for 52 yards and three carries for 10 yards and a touchdown. He moved back behind center after classmate Hunter Watson transferred to Pottsboro and stayed there.
Southwestern went 6-4 this past season and 6-3 to tie for third in the American Southwest Conference. The program was the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions in 2016 after three straight losing seasons which started when Southwestern re-instated football after a 60-year absence.