Emanuel Bridges may have grown up in a household of ministers, but the 3-star linebacker from Newnan High School is anything but a saint on the football field.
At 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, Bridges, who committed to Georgia Tech over Ole Miss last week, is an imposing figure near the line of scrimmage. Off of it, though, is a different story. He’s so reserved to the point that his father, Emanuel Sr., didn’t know he was committing until he woke up last Thursday.
“I had to find out (last Thursday) morning,” his father told the AJC. “He told me he was going to call Georgia Tech and commit. He’s not the type to brag and boast. He’s very humble, sometimes too humble.”
The humility comes with the territory. Bridges, who held 19 offers, grew up in a house built on faith. Both his mother, Denise, and father are ministers at A Place of Refuge in Newnan. And despite being recruited by several top-tier schools, most notably Clemson, Ole Miss and Michigan State, Bridges remained grounded throughout the recruiting process.
“His upbringing has had an effect on him to the point that when he had to make a life choice, he was able to do it,” his father said.
But Bridges admits that there was a stark difference between the decision he made on last Thursday and the one he made last November, when he committed to Tennessee. He later broke off the engagement in February, a move his mentor, Derrick Teagle, says was a credit to his maturation.
“I think the first time, he was trying to be more loyal to the recruiting process,” Teagle said. “He knew he was going to take some more visits and he let Tennessee know he was partly committed, but wanted to check some schools out.”
After he de-committed from the Volunteers, Bridges reopened his recruitment and visited Georgia Tech twice during the offseason, most recently in June. During the visits, both he and his father walked away impressed.
“I was amazed at the way the coaches embraced us,” his father said. “They let him know that he was one of the top linebackers that they were recruiting this year.”
His father admits that visiting Georgia Tech was an eye-opener. The Yellow Jackets’ rise in the ACC coupled with the program’s unmatched academics made the decision an easy one for Bridges and his family.
“I’m thrilled that my son was able to not only make a decision for football only, but for football and his future,” his father said.
Bridges says he’s developed a strong relationship with the Tech coaching staff, particularly defensive coordinator Ted Roof and receivers coach Al Preston. Bridges says he has been told that he could have an opportunity to play immediately.
“They plan on using me as an every-down linebacker,” Bridges said. “They plan on blitzing me on both sides of the field, getting after it and if they need me to drop in pass coverage, I’ll be able to do that because they told me I’m a versatile linebacker. And if they need me to stuff the run, I can do that, too.”
Teagle, who’s trained Bridges since the seventh grade, says Georgia Tech is not only getting a great pursuit linebacker, but one who will outwork his peers.
“They’re getting a kid who’s going to work his butt off,” Teagle said. “He’s probably one of hardest working kids I’ve had in the seven or eight years that I’ve been training athletes, if not the hardest.”