When Newman linebacker Emanuel Bridges de-committed from Tennessee in February, that opened the door for other schools to join in on his recruitment, including Georgia Tech.
The 3-star linebacker from Newnan High School still has the Volunteers in the mix as one of five finalists, including Tech, Ole Miss and a pair of Big 10 schools – Michigan State and Penn State.
Bridges said he’d like to make his decision in the near future.
“I want to commit pretty soon,” Bridges told the AJC. “Definitely before the season.”
As for de-committing from Tennessee, Bridges admits to getting caught up in the moment and rushing into a decision.
“I didn’t weigh my options the way I should have,” he said.
One option weighing on Bridges’ mind is Tech. He’s visited twice this offseason – most recently in June – and said he has a great relationship with defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
The Jackets have sold Bridges as a fit in their defensive scheme and have mentioned the possibility of early playing time.
“They tell me they want me to be an outside linebacker,” he said. “They also see me being able to cover slot receivers as a bigger nickel back.
Bridges’ versatility as a linebacker is what’s most appealing to college programs, Newman coach Mike McDonald said.
“He’s probably going to be a three-down linebacker at the next level,” McDonald said. “He’s got long arms, he likes to stuff the run, he’s good on pass plays. And that’s what folks are looking for in college nowadays. He’s got great size, he runs well and he’s long.”
Bridges knows he can be an impact player for Tech should he choose the Jackets.
“I feel like I could be a great fit,” he said. “With so many schools lining up in the spread – Georgia Tech’s the only school I know who doesn’t run the spread like that – they need someone who can drop back into pass coverage. That’s a strength for me and that’s why they like me so much.”
Though Bridges plans on committing before the season, he also prefers to take official visits after committing.
“I just want to enjoy the recruiting process,” he said.
Bridges is aware of Jackets coach Paul Johnson’s policy for recruits who commit to the program, which is to end the recruiting process. This includes not taking any official visits. Bridges said he’s aware of the policy and respects it. He also said it wouldn’t deter Bridges from choosing the Jackets.
“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “I won’t take visits if the school I choose isn’t OK with it. I would ask if it’s OK first and if the school I commit to doesn’t want me to go, then I’m not going to jeopardize that. I’m going to do whatever it takes to build the best relationship I can with coaches.”
Ole Miss was the first school to offer Bridges and he still has a good relationship with Tennessee. He’s yet to get out to Michigan State or Penn State, but he said he’s going to try and make it out to those schools. Should he take official visits, those would likely be two of the destinations.
Bridges wants to commit sooner than later because he plans to be an January enrollee. He wants to major in either business or kinesiology.
McDonald thinks Bridges will be able to make the adjustment of being a student-athlete at the next level.
“He’s a great kid,” McDonald said. “He comes from a good family, he’s pleasant to be around and he’s just a good all-around kid.”
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is the No. 37 outside linebacker in the country and the No. 49-ranked overall player in Georgia.