“I’m definitely thinking I’m going to play this weekend,” Emmons said.
Originally a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide where he played as a true freshman under then-offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, Emmons broke his right ankle in the season-opener against Ohio St. on the first carry of his FAU career.
Emmons underwent surgery to repair the ankle.
“I really came back quicker than what the doctors expected,” Emmons said. “I’m really excited about the whole thing.”
For the past month, FAU’s target return date for Emmons has been this week. On Tuesday Emmons partook in snaps with the first team as part of a rotation of backs within the top unit.
“He looked great today,” quarterback Chris Robison said. “I told him after practice he had a great practice, he just has to keep it up. I wish we would have had him the whole year, which I’m sure a lot of people did. But having him this last stretch of games is really good for us.”
Emmons will visit doctors on Wednesday and Thursday in hopes of receiving final clearance to return to game action.
If permitted to play it’s unclear how many snaps Emmons will see. He missed two months of conditioning and isn’t close to the game conditioning achieved prior to the start of the season.
“I’m, still dealing with the pain and everything, but that’s part of it,” Emmons said. “I love football. That’s the reason I’m out there practicing the way I am now.”
Returning against USTA holds special significance for Emmons, who has family San Antonio, Dallas and Plano, Texas.
“That’s really my motivation right there,” Emmons said. “Just being able to come back for a home game and being able to play in front of my people – the ones who have been encouraging me through this whole process, making sure I’m alright, keeping my head level. This game is really going to mean a lot to me and it’s going to mean a lot to the team.”
If Emmons does play on Saturday he’ll be the second FAU running back to return to the banged-up unit in as many games. Leading rusher Malcolm Davidson missed the Owls’ victory over Western Kentucky only to lead the Owls with 144 yards and three touchdowns the following week in a Shula Bowl victory over FIU – FAU’s most recent outing.
While many predicted Emmons would return for that game, FAU coaches always expected the redshirt junior to take advantage of last week’s bye to strengthen the ankle.
Following the bye week Emmons said he’s feeling “more confident” in the ankle.
“Everybody’s been telling me I look good and I feel like I’ve been doing alright,” Emmons said. “I’m definitely looking forward to playing.”